Aleksandr Petrov
UX/UI Designer
Made with


The importance of the project

The Open Data Portal is a tool of great importance to the public. It was launched in response to the need for greater transparency and accountability of the government for the purpose of achieving more effective public participation, encouraging tech innovation and spurring third-party app development.

About the project

Team: Opendatabot, 908.vc

My role: UI/UX Designer, Front-end Developer

It was decided early on by our team to design the website within the framework of ‘uniform design code for the government web resources of Ukraine’.

This decision allowed us to:

  • immediately choose the vector of design to follow
  • focus on addressing usability issues
  • not to get sidetracked into building a separate design system and, therefore, use our resources sparingly.

Moreover, in doing so, we acted in support of the initiative for the unification of government web resources design.

Research

When designing the new version of the portal, with each iteration, we were paying due attention to the feedback of users given on the previous version. It was crucial that we hear out:

  • ordinary users (i.e. journalists, citizens concerned, analysts)
  • government officials (those who are responsible for publishing datasets and those who use open data in their daily work)
  • third party developers who work with open data and develop products making use of such data.

Furthermore, we benefited from the expertise and experience of Opendatabot team, one of the biggest consumers of open data in Ukraine.

Making a better search

It was very important that we create a more flexible navigation and search systems for datasets and organizations in the new version of the portal. As of today, there are more than 3000 organizations and more than 40 000 datasets on the portal. The datasets were divided into topic groups, they can be filtered by organizations, keywords, data format and license.

When classifying organizations, we faced the challenge of determining the category of such small organization as, for instance, “Poltava Second City Clinical Hospital” or “Nursery of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Kherson region”. 

After some consultations with the government on what presented itself as an impossible dilemma we came up with an idea to divide providers into such groups as central authorities, local authorities and others. Due to the fact that there is a limited number of central and local authorities, and they are of primary interest to users, we did the following:

  1. Created separate tabs for them on providers page for better accessibility
  2. They in turn were subdivided into categories by type of organization and by the region respectively. 
  3. For all other organizations we created a separate tab to search among all providers. 

It is precisely there that we can find both “Poltava Second City Clinical Hospital” and “Nursery of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Kherson region”.

Building feedback

In the development of the new version of the portal our priority, in addition to improving the process of working with the very data itself, was to:

  • encourage cooperation and feedback of users and data publishers
  • create a community in the field of open data in Ukraine
  • enhance public control of the quality of open data.

Forum

Forum is the main platform for discussions on the portal. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to develop a solution that would be integrated into the portal itself. As a result, we obviated the need to create a separate user account, which resulted in a smoother user experience. Additionally, as developers, we had considerably more opportunities for integration with existing back-end solutions of our platform.

When designing the forum, primarily I wanted to make it as simple and clear as possible, having only the basic functionality. Many design decisions were made under time and resource constraints – it is an arduous task making a fully functional product inside another one.

Request dataset

It was of significant importance to us that users and citizens could contribute to the development of the field of open data in Ukraine. Therefore, we established a platform where they can request a dataset not yet published. 

When the request is approved by site administration, a new forum thread is created automatically, where users can discuss the topic in a detailed manner.

Issues

There are sections designed specifically for each separate dataset, where users can leave suggestions or comments on a particular dataset. The section employs a ticket system. When users create an issue, a ticket is assigned to a publisher of this dataset who is obliged to tackle the issue. Every issue is a separate thread, where users can discuss the problem in detail.

Infohub

Infohub is a section of the site allowing users to explore how much progress Ukraine has made in the field of open data. There one can find visualizations and infographics on how government agencies comply with legislation, compare how actively different institutions publish datasets, prescribed by the law to be published, leaf through some guidance material issued by the state, aimed at fostering the development of open data in Ukraine.

Improve mobile usability

The portal is indeed responsive, as a universally accepted design axiom requires. However, there is a modest achievement which is worthy to pay attention to. We managed to do without the hamburger menu, a no mean feat on government web-sites. As a result, we removed an odd step for users to reach search, login/register functionality and the main menu.

Usability testing

As the core of out back-end was an Open Source data portal platform CKAN. I had an opportunity to test usability of the site on the early stages not only via prototyping tools like Invision, but also directly on web. 

Each user was asked to follow different tasks concerning:

  • registration of a user, registration of a publisher
  • the ability to find certain providers and datasets
  • managing datasets and providers
  • giving feedback in general discussions and in discussions regarding datasets issues

The fact that I was also responsible for front-end development, allowed me to iterate through designs faster, and test out those changes in real environment.

Conclusion

This project has given me a great experience and knowledge of developing a digital product in a team. I have learned how to apply user-centered approach to design, and how to consider the needs of a client, stakeholders and users to develop a better product. Additionally, It made me a better front-end developer and improved my skills of working with team of programmers.