What Design Leaders Can Learn from FiveThirtyEight’s Evolution

Be Open about your Design Process

Use What Works While Experimenting and Adapting

Make it a Point to Collect Frequent Feedback

  • First, I would love to see Anna’s article expand into a series exploring how data journalists work. I’d be very interested in learning about the relationship between their designers and technologists, and how those interactions shaped what we see on the site. These graphs are highly-customized work-a far cry from the static images posted back in 2008. These types of interactions are not easy to pull off and require design and technical prowess as well as a strong collaborative bond between designers and technologists.
  • The first time user experience (FTUE) is effective, but it becomes a distraction on subsequent visits. A good FTUE is critical to develop a strong foundation for your audience, so I applaud the effort. After a week of visiting I found myself scrolling through a big, distracting hero image and block of latest news to get to where I wanted to land-the bee swarm. The hero image does an ok job of showing the variety of outcomes output by the simulation, but it’s a lot of real estate that buries the lede on repeat visits. In many FTUE situations, users are given the option to hide instructional materials on subsequent visits, or the system does it for you.
  • Fivey Fox is fun, but a little too cutesy for my taste. This is the type of feedback that designers can find frustrating since it’s subjective and isn’t goal oriented. While I think Fivey distracts from the seriousness of the material, I’ll admit that I don’t notice him after multiple visits. What is a design leader to do with this kind of feedback? I’d recommend checking to see if Fivey is distracting from the content in any other qualitative research, and to be open to monitoring whether or not there is an underlying UX problem.

Most Importantly, Embrace Change

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