David Lewis of Audiencenet discusses the Innovation Fund project his team are developing to enhance the user experience of and increase user engagement with the Uk Data Service website and resources
Who are we?
Audiencenet is a full service market research and data visualisation company based in Shoreditch, London. ‘Data Design’, the Audiencenet in-house data visualisation service, is a team of graphic designers, developers and animators who work alongside our research and data specialists to create visually engaging infographics, dashboards and animations. The primary brief for our ESRC Innovation Fund project is to introduce new visualisation elements to the UK Data Service website which will help to bring the service to a wider user-group, whilst enhancing the experience of existing users.
What have we been doing for the UK Data Service?
During the development phase of the project, we carried out in-depth qualitative research to review the current website and test a series of ideas for improved visualisation. The research was conducted in the form of a week-long online community forum, recruited to include regular users of the service and wider-potential users. A key finding from the website review was a sense, particularly amongst the new potential users, of “information overload” and not knowing “where to start”. The participants were highly vocal as to which visual elements would enhance the user experience, and the reasons why, and equally what the potential pitfalls might be in the delivery of certain aspects.
Over the past few months we have been focusing on the following three areas:
Incorporating the findings from the user/new user research and regular feedback from the UK Data Service team, our designers have wire-framed several options for a more engaging homepage. These have been narrowed down to two final options that will be shown and discussed at the next UK Data Service Staff away day on the 26th February 2015.
Case Study Visualisations
Working independently at first and then with the depositors, we have to date designed 10 visual case studies. The aim for all of the visualisations is to summarise the key findings from chosen studies. We are currently refining these and working them into a template. The research team have been busy disseminating the studies into digestible and engaging stories. This process has shown that although some lend themselves very well to this format, and there are also those that don’t. As an alternative means of dissemination, some of the case studies will take the form of short ‘talking-head’ style videos. In the coming weeks we will be meeting with, and filming, depositors talking about the studies and the wealth of data available. The aim of both the visualisations and video shorts, which will feature prominently on the website, is to engage users of the UK Data Service.
Whilst creating the visualisations we have been compiling a set of visualisation tools, which will be refined and made available for depositors and users. The aim is to enable these users them to create their own infographic style outputs.
We have been in discussion with the UK Data Service technical team and finalising the API that will be used. We will then decide how best to display the data. The information displayed will include number of views per dataset, users, downloads, documentation. There will also be different levels of detail/access for users, depositors and administrators.
Part two of the qualitative research is due to kick off towards the end of this week. During this stage of research we will be testing the various designs and ideas for the homepage re-fresh, case study visualisations and the leaderboard dashboard. We will also be exploring the style and content for the first in a series of “welcome / how to” animations. Watch this space! Please find out more about all our Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Innovation Fund projects here.