Building a Website with an Environmental Data Index
Tracking data for over 200 countries, the Yale Environmental Performance Index is the standard-bearer for measuring environmental performance. Looking to leap forward in the EPI’s 15th year, Yale asked Constructive to rethink their product to make its big-data research more accessible, engaging, and useful to a wider audience—deepening their understanding of complex environmental issues and their implications for the world.
Filled with data but not enough insights.
The existing EPI was created to cater to researchers and expert audiences. Data design made research feel impenetrable, the site lacked content explaining the index’s issues and indicators, a lack of infographics made complex concepts hard to understand, and functionality for data tools was limited. The result was a website that failed to live up to the quality of the EPI’s research—and a brand experience falling of maximizing its potential for impact.
How can we make all this data more accessible to a wider audience?
Big data websites like the EPI are challenged not just to share information, but also to guide audiences as they explore the issues, analyze the numbers, and interpret them. So our first task was to understand the methodology of the index itself. We learned how Yale’s research team constructed the EPI and the statistical engine and system running it. We then performed user research and collaborated through an Agile process to develop a user experience that opens up the data to a wider audience. Content strategy and Information Architecture offer multiple entry points into the EPI’s 9 issues, 20 indicators, and 200 countries, with expository content and case studies that provide deeper context into them
We need the brand to be as functional as it is beautiful.
While the EPI is all about information, the key to it being a strong brand was designing for data-heavy content while differentiating from similar academic exercises by making it inviting for a wider audience beyond research experts. We created a design strategy that’s both emotional and functional, starting with a vibrant, expansive logo that sets the tone. The EPI’s visual identity system of typefaces, colors, and iconography is designed both to give life to the brand and, most important, effectively communicate the breadth and depth of data-heavy content.
How can we make all this research interesting to a wider audience?
The Yale EPI delivers objective research with visual impact—a big data-driven experience that expands its influence by reaching beyond a narrow audience of policy wonks and research experts.
How can we make this data visual, accessible, and actionable?
Educating lay audiences on complex environmental issues and science was critical to the EPI’s goal of reaching a broader audience of engaged non-experts. We developed a system of narrative infographics that transform the EPI’s dense data into accessible content—using visual storytelling to explain exactly what the EPI tracks, what it means, and most important, why it matters. The result makes critical environmental issues more accessible by providing memorable takeaways and deepening audiences’ understanding of what’s at stake.
A library of infographics and data design elements provides the flexibility needed to clearly articulate the complexity of 9 issue areas and 20 indicators that comprise the Yale Environmental Performance Index.
We'd like to empower people to come to their own conclusions.
Perhaps most important, the Yale EPI is not a big data project that limits what audiences can learn by the lenses it provides. After all, the EPI ranking is but one way to look at important global data. To empower people to challenge their own assumptions and draw their own conclusions, the Data Explorer allows users to dynamically investigate the data, comparing global environmental performance against measures such as national GDP, population, land area, and other variables.
Our Client's Experience
“We engaged Constructive with the enormous undertaking of developing a new website for the Environmental Performance Index. Their work has been successful for several reasons: the new EPI website is beautiful, which keeps our users engaged; it’s also highly usable, with tools that provide unprecedented access to EPI data. Most important, the infrastructure they built is scalable. We couldn’t be happier with the result.”