Week1: Website Review #1

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has an interactive GIS website to show the outcomes of the Human Development Report 2009. You can find the website at http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/data/mobility/map/. Compared to the detailed content the actual Human Development Report, the data this GIS map provides is extremely limited. In addition, I found the user interface very difficult to navigate through.

The top page of the interactive map looks like below.

Now a user is viewing the content in the “Introduction” tab. From here, the user clicks one of the three tabs on the top next to the “Introduction” tab. Since I was expecting to see the map by clicking “Interactive World Map” in the menu bar on left, it took me a few seconds to understand where to click after this introduction page.

The following shows the screen when the user chooses the Socio-demographic indicators in the middle tab. The map is blank at this step. Then the user chooses how he/she wants to sort the data by choosing the options in the dropdown arrow boxes. First, the user selects to view the map 1) by country, 2) by region, 3) by Human Development Index (HDI), and 4) by World from the dropdown arrow box on the very left.

I chose to sort the data by country. Then chose “Kenya” in the next dropdown arrow box, and selected to see the level of education of migrants. The result is shown below. This step was fairly easy to command although there is no explanation on what to do. The three dropdown arrow boxes are simple enough to use my intuition to navigate through. The problem surfaced when I got the result.

On the left of the map, there is an explanation on the tendency of migrants’ educational attainment, but irrelevant to Kenya’s data. In this index, it describes how migrants’ educational attainment affects the living quality in the US. When I chose another indicator, it changed to a description of EU. In addition, as you can see in the screen shot, the user cannot read the whole description. There is no scroll bar or hide/unhide button either to read the whole description.

The table below this description shows the data of the index by country, region, HDI, and world. So the user can compare Kenya’s data with that by region, HDI, and world. I assume the percentage shows the average within each category. In the map, because Kenya is selected, the country is lifted up. As the legend tells, the darker the color, the higher the index becomes. However, I cannot tell which group of the population the index counted. For example, did it count those who completed Bachelor’s degree or are graduated from high-schools. I clicked on the “Notes” tab at the bottom of the screen, but it did not give clarification on this issue.

The graph at the bottom of the screen is hard to understand at the first glance. It shows where Kenya is positioned among all countries the data is available. Kenya’s index is circled in black. This figure changes when you move the triangle cursor between the description and the data table to the middle or to “Low” as the screen shot below shows.

Since I did not understand what “Medium” or “Low” in the cursor means, I clicked on “About This Graphic” tab at the bottom of the screen. Then I got the following explanation. This is an explanation on the system of the Interactive World Map in general, but not specifically about the graphic shown on the screen. Thus, there was no explanation about what the cursor means.

The only “pros” I can give to this interactive map’s navigation system is the simple control on the upper left of the map. It is easy to understand even for the first-time users. Especially, it is easy to compare Kenya’s data graphically by pushing the “—“ button in the control to zoom out. After the map is zoomed out, Kenya is still lifted up, thus easy to make cross-country comparisons. I would like to keep this idea in my mind when I am working on the group project.

But in general, compared to the amount of data UNDP has, the technology it uses in this interactive map is too simple. As a result, the data the map shows is incomplete to be used for advanced research projects (it may be useful to give an overview). At least, UNDP should be able to show the data by districts/prefecture when sorting “by country” is selected. Especially when UNDP’s projects are focused on developing countries because it is everybody’s knowledge that human development index has large disparities between rural areas and a capital in developing countries.

In summary, though UNDP’s interactive map is helpful to do cross-regional or cross-country comparisons of the data, the interface is hard to navigate through after sorting out the data. Description of the data is irrelevant to the country/region the user is focusing on, and the tools are hard to understand for what the user should use them for. Therefore, UNDP should clean up the interface to make it more user friendly. And lastly, since UNDP possesses more detailed information of each country, a more advanced technology should be used.

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