Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) exists to help the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.
They asked us to develop a multi-platform piece to launch at ‘Contagion’, an event at London’s Science Museum. The piece needed to encourage people to explore the state of the world’s health through an interactive, personalised lens using their year of birth as a start point.
The drive was to create awareness, so it also needed strong social assets to help spread the message.
As always, we brought forward our expertise in editorial and design thinking. We explored different visualization options and devices to show off the data and tell its stories, keeping in mind how they could work across different platforms.
With a solid idea of the different stories and data, we ran paper and pencil sketch sessions with the team’s designers and non-designers to get initial thoughts down.
These sessions gave us two things: the time and space to weigh up different options, and a broad spectrum of ideas and opinions.
We find that getting the thinking done upfront helps reduce the amount of changes needed later. So, most of our final designs were very similar to our first sketches.
We set aside a block of time to consider how the piece would scale from mobile format right up to giant exhibition screens. How would interactions work on desktop compared to tablet? Would a mobile user have enough info on a small screen to understand the viz? And how would it elegantly span these different space constraints?
We always ask our developers to get involved with design as early as possible in our process. We can be much more efficient if we know what we’re sketching or designing can actually be coded.
The devs like this because they can quickly start exploring the best ways of making the piece sing. Animations, transitions – even the physics of dynamic content – are all super-important to the overall feel of the piece, especially as the central interaction of this piece was a user’s own year of birth.
One of the most important goals with Global Health Check was to raise as much awareness about these global health issues as possible. So, we knew we needed to make a series of social-media-friendly GIFs to entice people to the website.
The big challenge here was to make a personalised viz universally interesting. So we put our stories about global health in the context of big moments in history. Like what’s happened in global health terms since The Beatles made it big? Or Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon?
These bite-size pieces were made for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Physically displaying a data visualization in an exhibition space is a whole different ball game to putting it online.
We considered all aspects – from recceing the site, to how the exhibit could grab the attention of passers by, sorting out insurance, booking the right equipment and testing it.
Our team were on hand on launch night. We were there to install the piece, but it was also an unmissable chance to chat to people as they were using it. It was awesome to hear first-hand comments about the content they were discovering – from shock at how many children still die in their first month of life, to surprise at how much life expectancy, for most, has increased.
(We did include some lighter editorial moments in the piece too, such as how many return trips you could make to Mars, with your new-found life expectancy. Give it a try to find out.)