ABS updates ‘cluttered’ website

The last time the Australian Bureau of Statistics made changes to its website was in the late 1990s. But a long-overdue redesign is coming in June this year after the ABS admitted the current design is cluttered and cumbersome.

The ABS had more than 14 million visits to its website between 2018 and 2019 and experienced increasing demand for its data, and admits that the website has struggled to meet the “appetite” of its visitors.

“We’re the first to admit that it’s cluttered, difficult to navigate and frustrating to use especially when users want quick answers to their questions,” the ABS says.

As part of the transition to the new website PDFs will no longer be used.

“On mobile devices, PDFs do not comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 due to a lack of support for document structure,” the ABS says.

“They are difficult to access on smaller screens as they don’t resize and re-format to fit the screen. Assistive technologies to read PDFs are only available when using a desktop or laptop device.”

Catalogue numbers will also no longer appear in the title of releases, however, it will be easier to find information in the new website, the ABS says, and visitors to the website will still be able to search by catalogue number.

New channels for accessing ABS data will also be available, including ‘machine to machine’ Application Programing Interfaces that allow users to integrate data into their own systems as they are released.

“This will remove the need to scrape the website or download the publication and manually enter the numbers into another spreadsheet,” the ABS says.

After the user has set this up, their system will be refreshed with the most recent statistics as they are released, removing the need for them to download the publication from the website and manually enter the data.

“One example is creating a spreadsheet with calls to a specific dataset or a selection of datasets.

“As the latest statistics are officially released at 11.30am, the spreadsheet will refresh with the latest statistics too.”

Data files on the website will remain the same and time series identifiers and file names will not change.

The Beta website can be viewed here.

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