Does displaying data on your website feel like a minefield?

With the majority of us still working remotely (and set to remain this way), the reach potential to our identified audiences through our websites is massive.

If your organisation is fuelled by and/or is the producer of data, it’s important that your website Is able to display and communicate key information to your audience in a way which is easy to understand and easy to obtain. If this is an area which is presenting a challenge to you, then read on.

Presenting data on line can feel like a headache, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ve pulled together some areas to think about to get you started:

1. Start with the why.

This is your starting point. Fully understanding the why from the outset will really help you to clarify your online data content strategy and will help pave the way to a smooth and successful build process.

Who are your audience – your existing and potential? What do you want them to know and why? What do you want your data to do for them? What course of action do you want it to ignite?

We’ve been working with The Maiden Lab at the Department of Zoology at The University of Oxford. They are a group of Scientists and Clinicians who are committed to reducing the global impact of bacterial infectious diseases. They have developed a genomic approach that “aspires to annotate and catalogue the variation of every gene in every organism in a population”. Their data and tools are accessible via open-access, curated databases.

For a new audience, they wanted to present this data in a way that made it possible for a visitor to the website to intuitively investigate the data themselves. Whilst the underlying data is incredibly detailed, the visualisations pull that data together into one screen. It can be cut and spliced and the interrelationship between bacteria and genome, population characteristics and interventions explored. It shows the huge value in this data and the approach and methodology use to generate the data and aims to encourage researchers to engage and contribute.

2. Move on to the how.

Once you’ve established the ‘why’, it’s time to move on to the ‘how’ and to work out how you want to display your data.

The challenge is presenting and organising information in a way that allows the user to navigate it intuitively, bearing in mind that different users are looking for different types of interactions. Some users want to do some analysis to answer a question. Others may want to follow an interesting path that the organisation lays out for them.

It is important to ensure that your data is relevant to the needs of the user and displayed in a way which is clear and easy for the user to understand. The display solution must work within the environment i.e. your website and must be easy for your organisation to keep up to date. If it isn’t, it’s likely that updates will be avoided and data will become out of date…

The Centre for Digital Built Britain is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to understand how the construction and infrastructure sectors could use a digital approach to better design, build, operate and integrate the built environment.

With a wealth of helpful resources, tools and data, the CDBB wanted to make information as accessible as possible so that users could easily access and find what they need quickly. In essence, this means creating a digital version of a librarian, categorising, grouping and linking up information. The CDBB tool gives the user a visual way to navigation through the information, see interlinkages and relationships and see what’s missing so that researchers can identify valuable questions to investigate.

3. A final thought on who.

When working through a data content strategy for your website, it’s important to consider who it is that you are happy to see the data. If it’s something that anyone and everyone can access, that’s fine. If it isn’t, then you need to establish an access strategy so that you build secure gateways into the data by user. This can be done in a number of ways including secure logins and access codes.

Still feeling stuck?

We can help.

We are Olamalu, Drupal experts and experienced web developers. We’re a friendly and down to earth team based in West Oxfordshire, who work together to achieve brilliant outcomes. We’ve been building websites and designing tailormade tech solutions for a huge range of different challenges for over 10 years. We work alongside clients and really get under the skin of the business, understanding not just what is needed now, but also how to plan ahead and consider the business needs in the future.

May 2021