Surfing with Ed on the Internet…

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, Local Government Data Unit - Wales

Ed continues his appraisals of different national Web Sites to stimulate use of the Internet, share best practice and encourage debate.


I noticed that I had not visited INE Portugal since 1999 and thought much should have happened to their site ( since then. The site is certainly different and provides a range of data in English – though, obviously, more is available on the Portuguese version.




The first impressions are that the site design is a little ragged, that the colour combination selection is not as good as it could be and that the rolling items are infuriating. The top graphics are certainly parsimonious in terms of size at only 5k but the yellow writing over the right graphic is illegible. The light grey writing above the sections on the right is difficult to view – almost not wanting the user to go there. The use of a frame for the news items allows more to be put into the page but at the cost of an extra slide bar. Even headings are not consistently presented: that for General Statistical Data does not have a yellow background on the home page but does on the lower level pages! The use of SVG graphics in the centre of the home page is a great advance but creators should not abandon good statistical graphic presentation for what illustrators want to do. Twelve graphic links at the bottom of the left-hand navigation is just too many! The home page is in fixed width because of the use of frames and loses much of the screen use on the current norm (XGA) of screens.




Five different types of links appear on the home page and, as I moved to the ‘Information desks’ from the left-hand navigation, the top graphics changed and the top navigation then changed to Portuguese. In fact, the Infoline graphic on lower-level pages is different from the home page version: the strap-line is so small as to be illegible. On a positive note, the top navigation of the English home page does have an indication of whether sub-menus drop down from the one position. It is etiquette to warn users of multi-lingual sites that content they are going to reach is not in the language they use for a link – but I did not find any of these notes on this site. As the heading changes within the site, it is not surprising that the new heading does not link back to the home page.


Page structure is affected by items on lower pages. With a chapter of the yearbook open, the chapter selector always came on top of any navigation drop-downs from the top menu – making them unreadable.


Data formatting


As usual I tried to access both population and price index data.  From the population link in the Statistical Data section, I chose population and social condition, then Demography and was asked which publication source I wanted a table from. The user does not know which is the latest (especially if not told) and would not really know how the tables are presented or what they contain. I decided on the yearbook. I was presented with a summary of my choice, then a choice of the seven demography tables from the publication and, after selecting the Excel table I want, finally .. a request in Portuguese to log in. I noticed on the left-hand side of the page that I could get the chapter in PDF format so, thinking this version was free from log in constraints, I clicked the link – to get the Portuguese page asking me to log in. Nowhere on the page was there a link to the home page or to a page for logging in. Back to the home page to register. Here it says all the information is free but you have to register. I did register to look at some data but, in selecting again through English, I finished up in Portuguese looking at a live birth table with a very vivid coloured outline.


Looking at the CPI data in the centre of the main page, I noted the Feb 2006 figure was 2.4 per cent whilst the rolling set of headlines notes that it was 2.8 per cent: the same difference appears on the Portuguese version of the site.


The data I did manage to find from the General Statistical Data link was presented in different formats and different typefaces. The employment data also had the problem in display of differential rounding where the ‘.0’ had been dropped from some numbers which made the comparisons difficult.




The copyright notice at the foot of the pages has a tool tip which is not consistent with the notice itself. I followed a few links from the About us page and found just Portuguese documents without warning. Increasing the text size on the home page produces interesting results - mainly because of the frames used.




The major issues with the navigation were exacerbated because of the language issues. Visiting the English version of the site was not a happy experience.



This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 6.0 on 13 April at 10.00 hrs GMT using a 2 Mbit link to the Internet on a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz machine.


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