The Children's Health Care Report Card site with a blue header and a graph and statistic, displayed on a laptop screen

The Context

Something was nagging Cathy Hope, Communications Director for Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families (CCF). Did people really know how to find the information they were seeking on their website? Afterall, three drop-down menus containing a total of twenty topics felt like a lot of information to present to visitors. Did people really understand what the terms meant and more importantly, could they find the content they needed? At the same time, Cathy’s team was struggling to publish content on the site’s poorly implemented WordPress theme.

A family with two children in their laps sitting in two armchairs and smiling at a person holding a piece of paper

The Ask

Given the situation, it was high time to assess the site and make a game plan for its redesign and re-platforming. CCF was looking for a partner to shepherd their journey throughout this process – both tackling the audience research and implementing a new design and platforming based on the research outcomes.

Two views of the mobile site, one the front page with the title of the report card and a search box to browse by state. The other is a graphical representation of the United States as shaded squares, with statistics within each one and a large callout at the bottom about Texas

The Solution

Alley stepped in and conducted initial usability testing among site users. This provided the key insights necessary to establish a new information architecture and wireframes for the new site. Twenty topics became five and two navigation menus were melded into one. Alley then worked to modernize the design, moving it away from a blog-like appearance to one of a respected research organization that publishes frequently. 

The new CMS focused on two distinct post-types: “blog posts” and “research and reports,” this distinction was presented to users in the backed of the CMS and on the frontend of the website. By marrying this split in content with a well defined taxonomy, information became quick to find. We implemented a robust faceted search making it easier for researchers to find the content they needed. Aside from a new content and categorization system for CCF, Alley also built a mapping system which allows CCF to publish state, county, and congressional district datasets as interactive maps. These javascript based maps have individual USA and state views that can all be embedded into other websites. Allowing CCF’s state partners to leverage CCF’s maps for their own constituents.

Two additional views of the site with articles and text
Before / After

The Results

With a solid design and CMS foundation, CCF and Alley have continued to partner, bringing new compelling data visualizations to their sites. Alley approached CCF with the idea of replacing their PDF state-based report cards with an interactive site. In 2019,CCF’s Children’s Health Care Report Card was launched.

The site is an interactive data hub that allows users to explore the national top line information on the home page (such as the overall trend in the country over time), as well as diving in deeper to state level data with a unique module for each. By showing these data in a visual and dynamic manner, the site helps showcase where states are succeeding and falling behind when it comes to improving health care coverage for children.

A map of the United States with each state converted into a shaded blue square and statistics shown on a tilted tablet screen

Powered by React, the site has lightning-fast transitions and clean visuals. A custom javascript parser for spreadsheets was written to make it easy for the CCF team to update the data on the site without manually typing in the data points. Simply upload a data sheet on the backend of the different indicators, and the whole site and individual state pages are automatically updated. This includes filtered breakdowns by any number of criteria, such as demographics, age, and poverty level. All of the CCF sites are responsive, accessible, and surpass WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines.

The main page of Georgetown CCF with navigation, featured article, and additional content

Century of Science

  • Design
  • Development
  • Editorial Strategy
  • User Experience

For 100 years, Science News readers have had a front row seat to the most vital scientific stories of our modern world. To celebrate their centennial, Science News turned to Alley to design and develop Century of Science, an online experience that connects new audiences with the scientific milestones and themes that fascinated and astounded readers throughout the 20th century.

  • Data Visualization and Research Communications
  • Design
  • Development
  • Discovery
  • User Experience

Relying on user research from multiple audiences, Alley built a new home for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science and Engineering State Indicators. The new site allows policymakers and researchers to more easily access the data they need in the form that they want, whether that is making visual comparisons of neighboring states or downloading CSV files.

Data Services

  • Data Visualization and Research Communications

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