Tuesday, July 3, 2007

White House Economic Statistics Briefing Room

Here's a link to the White House Economic Statistics Briefing Room

Their purpose is to provide easy access to current Federal economic indicators drawn from a a number of different Federal agencies. Categories of data include:
This is a nice idea but the navigation, the selection of key performance indicators, and some of the presentational choices made for each chart leaves some room for improvement.

Navigation: For example the Employment link provides access to 8 metrics and one might imagine that someone interested getting a sense of how things are going with regard to employment might actually want to look at all 8.

To accomplish you click on the employment link which brings up a web page that lists the 8 factors but due to the layout of the page, it takes almost two full screens to see the eight factors. Each factor has a chart icon to click on so you can see the actual chart.

The icon is large enough in size so that it would have been big enough to give a useful small size version of the chart. Amazingly, when you click on the icon, instead of getting the full size version of the chart, you get an intermediate screen that tells you that you are exiting the White House Server. After a 5+ second delay you are redirected to the chart.

So to look at all 8 charts that were picked to represent the most important employment related factors, you have to navigate up back and forth with the redirection delay in the middle. Not a lot of fun.

If you want to look at all the key indicators from all the categories, there is a whole lot of clicking and mousing and redirect delays ahead of you.

Contrast this to the St. Louis Fed approach of combining all the key indicators at a given point in time into a single PDF document. My take is that the PDF format is much kinder to the prospective reader/viewer and that it is much more likely to be examined and used.

It would be great if there were an option to download a single PDF or PowerPoint document that had all the charts from all the different categories so that the viewer could simply scroll through each chart and thereby obtain a composite, gestalt view of the state of the economy.

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