8 Apr 2004

Who is it for?
You, me, everybody.

What information does it contain?
As the name suggests: statistics, statistics and more statistics. These can be viewed in an easily digestible headline format or full-fat spreadsheet version. The data relates mainly to the economic and social life of Ireland in the present day, so if you were hoping for some obscure facts of a political or historic nature, look elsewhere. There is, however, a detailed history of statistics and statistics capture in Ireland that goes back to the first population census in the 1840s (see About Us section). The main information on the site relates to the following categories: agriculture; building and construction; distribution and services; external trade; economy; industry; labour force; population and vital statistics; prices; and travel and tourism. There is also a sub-section that gives Ireland’s key economic indicators and those of other European states. But that’s not all. There is a separate news section containing lists of press releases and upcoming events; and a student corner, which presents selected information on the labour force, consumer price index and other areas that could be easily incorporated into essays or projects. A site map and powerful search engine are both essential features for such a content-rich site – both of these are present and correct.

How does it look?
A clear and well-structured layout is essential given the mass of information the site has to grapple with and by and large, www.cso.ie succeeds in doing this. If not quite funky, the homepage is commendably light and uncluttered.

Best feature?
Sheer weight of information, clearly laid out. There’s something here for everybody from businesspeople and researchers to students and economists (not to mention journalists). A useful feature is that the format of documents – generally Excel, Word or PDF – and their size is stated beside each hyperlink so that users, particularly those on slow connections, knows roughly what they are faced with before they click on a document. Eliminates the click and hope scenario.

The verdict?
A website that manages to bring statistics to life has been given a lot of credit.

By Brian Skelly