3. Redesign Statfin

I analyzed the user journey of Statfin PX-Web system. In short, it seems to me that it has already been a pretty mature system — the basic steps (Choose table, Choose variable, and Show table) are comprehensive and easy-to-follow if you are a professional in statistics-related field. However, the demonstration of the system is still pretty static based of the outdated front-end technologies it utilised.

It doesn't provide comprehensive categorical information before choosing table, which can cause the users waste time moving backward and forward to check. It doesn't allow the users to select the variables and see the end results at the same page, which has been widely adopted in interactive infographic based on modern javascript framework and can significantly increase the smoothness of experience. It doesn't show visualised data, which could make the data much more comprehensive than the long and dry tables, by default. It doesn't provide a responsive interface for mobile browsers, which has been already a must for accessibility in modern web design.

I see there is still room for improvement, which aims to lower the threshold to transform data into information.

Design Principles

The project of redesign statfin is based on the three principles, which are categorized based on the observation of the current problems mentioned.

  1. Visualisation First: Always visualise raw data at the first glance, than provide tools for further investigation.

  2. Intuitive Interaction: Reduce cognitive load and keep the interface intuitive and effective.

  3. Seamless Experience: Make experience consistent while producing, interacting, and viewing information.

More details on the problems and the application of the principle for redesigning are shown in the following sub-sections of steps (Section3.1—3.4).

Design for front-stage and back-stage integration

In addition to the front-stage interface of Statfin mentioned above. I also see the potential of integrating the statistics provided by the four official statistical authorities more seamlessly.

Every service needs back-stage operation to maintain. Sometimes, the service gap, which means that the customer feels that their demands are not satisfied because of a gap after one service and before the next on their journey, is generated by the structure of organisations.

The back-stage views comprise all the things the service provider does that are invisible to customers but essential to enable the customer experience (Reason, B., Løvlie, L., & Flu, M. B., 2015). In this case, the total data production process can be seen as the key part of the back-stage things. It could be divided into the three parts: Collect, Process and Produce, and Disseminate. Although Statistics Finland, which collects around two-thirds of official statistics, plays a critical role in the entire process, the tremendous works are actually the outcome of cross-sectional collaboration within the Finnish government.

Every country has their own statistical system which can be described as centralised and decentralised depending on how the products of the system are processed and disseminated. I personally like how Bill McLennan, the former head of the Australian Statistical Service, described the main impact from positions on the continuum: “policy relevance versus statistical integrity” (PARIS21, 2005).

According to The Statistics Act (280/2004), the four statistical authorities of Finland are Statistics Finland, the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Luke), Finnish Customs (Tulli) and the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. The official statistics in Finland is relatively centralised as Statistics Finland is defined as the general authority within the National Statistical Service, but it still has some features of decentralised structure. The authorities publish the statistics on their own systems through the same PX-Web interface and API, therefore, the experience of using the systems are consistent. However, the service gaps exist and bother while the users are trying to combine data from different providers.

For example, while studying the development of forest industry in Finland, one of the important indicators is its proportion of value in export. It is necessary to combine the data of "Imports, exports and trade balance" (from Tulli) and Foreign trade in roundwood and forest industry products (from Luke). Both of them are not available directly on the same interface, thus, the statistical system inevitably gives its users an impression of silos, which is also common to see in services provided by great enterprises and other government sectors.

How can we reduce the gaps between organisations, and provide one service to the customers?

The redesign itself is to utilise the front-stage redesign to integrate the back-stage operation. In the following sub-section 3-3, I would like to show how some gaps existing at the front-stage aspect, and then shows the possible way to integrate.

Benchmark

The most important benchmark is the OECD Data, it shows a good example of integrating sophisticated data from various different sources and of visualise it in a comprehensive, intuitive, and interactive way.

A screenshot of OECD Data

Reference

Reason, B., Løvlie, L., & Flu, M. B. (2015). Service design for business: A practical guide to optimizing the customer experience. John Wiley & Sons.

PARIS21. (2005). Models of Statistical Systems. PARIS21 Document Series, no. 6 (October). Consulted the 11th of January 2016, and retrieved from http://www.paris21.org/sites/default/files_2101.pdf.