A team of Scroll content designers worked with policy and data specialists at the Race Disparity Unit to develop and launch the Ethnicity facts and figures website, which presents outcomes for people from different ethnic backgrounds in areas such as housing, education, criminal justice and health. This fulfilled the government’s promise in 2016 to bring data from all government departments together in one place and “shine a light” on issues of inequality in order to, in the words of the Prime Minister, “explain or change” them.
Before Ethnicity facts and figures, all this data was spread across every government department and agency. It was presented in a range of different formats and styles and varied in quality and currency. The data was often raw, with no commentary, leaving the user to determine what question it was answering, and how.
There were 2 main challenges:
to bring all this data onto one website and present it in a consistent format and style
to make sure it met the needs of a wide range of users
The data was used by everyone from interested members of the public who have limited data literacy to specialists in academia or policy. We had to find a way of expressing complex, specialised information in straightforward ways and plain English, so that non-specialists (like members of the public) could understand it.
Given public attitudes towards government and data, and the controversial nature of the brief, we also needed to make sure that people trusted the data and information we provided.
Ethnicity facts and figures was nominated for a Cabinet Office Innovator Award 2017, for which we won runner-up.
● In the public beta release we published 136 measures across 6 topics and 32 subtopics
● The press response has been largely positive across the political spectrum (a rare feat)
● We achieved one of our main goals – gaining user trust – judging from overwhelmingly positive feedback
● A model for a more standard cross-governmental approach to presenting data
Scroll content designers knew from experience that content must be easy to understand and intuitive to navigate. It must also meet the needs of a wide range of users.
Working as part of a digital team with an agile approach, we relentlessly focused on user need. We did extensive and ongoing research to profile users and understand their needs.
We worked closely with data analysts to find ways to present the data, and to make sure we could present complex findings to a general audience without damaging or misrepresenting the data. We developed content formats that organised information to meet different needs, from snackable to in-depth.
The project would only succeed if we could earn people’s trust. We worked hard on keeping the content neutral and dispassionate, avoiding value judgements and presenting data objectively and consistently. We also tightly controlled the very sensitive language around race and ethnicity.
We tested each iteration of the content in user labs, using observations from these to improve the service.
Using this evidence based, user-centric approach, we created a service that presented data on a wide range of issues in one place, in a consistent, easily understood and accessible format and style. Feedback suggests we did so in a way that earns the user’s trust in the information.
What the client said
“This really is a model for how all statistics should be developed: find out what questions people across society want to answer, and figure out how best to present the data to them…”(read the full article) Ed Humpherson, Director General of the Office for Statistics Regulation
“’Working with Scroll has been a challenging but educational experience. I have had to explain technical processes and terms in clear, plain ways. This has challenged me not only to think about my work, my understanding of these processes and their outcomes, but also about language and presentation generally. I’m learning to let go of precise, technical language, and instead – with Scroll’s help – I’m developing content that helps people to really understand the story I’m telling.” Rachel Beardsmore, Principal Social Researcher – Race Disparity Unit