Data as a product has evolved - both in terms of quantity and the way it is designed, presented, and disseminated. Consumption of data-driven content and stories is steadily increasing worldwide across all global platforms. No matter how useful the data is, the user cannot gain any insights unless it is presented well. Data visualization can support several objectives including but not limited to the following: accessing information, monitoring, and evaluation, supporting advocacy initiatives, outcome reporting, statistical data presentation, maintaining industry leadership, strengthening content quality within websites, adding value to memberships and subscriptions, and expanding data-driven collaboration and team analytics. There has been an explosion of data consumption that is accelerating the digital revolution, and it is essential to consider how data can be presented in a usable manner and made available for its intended audience.
As part of the Digital Frontiers Program, ASSYST worked with DAI to support the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the world’s premier international development agency that drives development results to redesign the mAccess Diagnostic Tool. mAccess is a data visualization tool, a part of USAID’s Center for Digital Development (CDD), that lets users assess digital ecosystem facts at a country level and compare data across nations.
The objective was to secure a redesigned solution that would increase its use and value within USAID in support of program implementation. The revitalized solution would provide a successful and sustainable digital approach that could be scaled globally. It would also help global decision-makers analyze the availability, cost of connectivity, and the number of Internet users for more than 100 countries. ASSYST’s approach towards data visualization focuses on the following key principles:
Objectivity and Simplicity: Choosing the right visualization model is critical when there is a large amount of data. Since users wanted to access data for countries, we allowed users on the landing page to either select a country from a dropdown list or select the country of interest from an interactive map, which was responsive and mobile-friendly. This in turn led to a useful and uncluttered interface.
Effective Communication: While there might be a lot of information, we prioritized the indicators that matter. ASSYST collaborated with USAID stakeholders and focused our efforts on these five (5) categories: access, affordability, competition, infrastructure, and usage. ASSYST designed icons (such as flags to symbolize the countries) and charts (such as time series, tables, and charts) to present multiple ways of representing the information.
Right Chart for the Right Data:ASSYST strove to ensure visualization and data remained in sync. We employed effective uses of axes and scales. This in turn made it easier to benchmark against other countries in a visually appealing manner.
As part of our design, we always kept the end-user in mind. ASSYST characterized every possible audience member, what they could do on the platform, and what context or narrative drives them to the platform. The inputs also formed the basis for developing informed wireframes, interface behaviors, insights into site functionality, and navigation. Our approach was user-centric, progressively disclosed information, offered intuitive navigation making it easier to traverse screens, and use tabbed navigation. Our goal was to minimize the number of clicks, as well as provide more information that was relevant with minimal clicks.
When ASSYST revitalized mAccess, we made sure that the solution was mobile and tablet ready. We identified users and their corresponding tasks, and prioritized content according to what a user would most want to do from a mobile device. ASSYST defined the content flow, layout, user-engagement model, and user interaction design. We used these pieces to design the navigation structure and interactive prototypes. We worked closely with users in accessibility testing to refine the platform.
ASSYST produced an interactive tool with a landing page and inner pages designed following USAID digital standards. The platform provides country snapshots, along with the option to choose indicators, and further proceed to benchmark results against other countries. The foundational components of the digital ecosystem included indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use at a country level and allow for comparison across countries.
mAccess data visualization has enabled governments and stakeholders to quickly identify bottlenecks, gaps, and unbalanced resources. This helps in better planning and decision making. By improving these digital programs and measuring success, users are able to measure development results and refine programs including quantitative and qualitative outputs and outcomes of each project.
Follow this link to explore the tool - http://maccess.digitaldevelopment.org/