The Office of National Statistics website is a treasure trove of data. It provides a huge range of regularly updated statistics on everything from average weekly earnings to North Sea fish stocks.
Not only does the ONS provide a wealth of information, but most of it is available in formats compatible with Microsoft Excel. This makes it far easier to digest and analyse the information.
Yet simply finding this data on the ONS website is far more time consuming and frustrating than it needs to be because the site is poorly designed. It is full of dead links, is difficult to search, and its category structure is often counterintuitive. Furthermore finding an explanation of the jargon used to label data is a challenge in itself.
What is so frustrating is that the ONS site fails to take advantage of the flexibility of the internet to make information easily available. With a little work, this data store could be opened up to allow journalists and members of the public to easily pull out any combination of data on any subject. As is, it is failing to live up to its potential.