From the outset, our collaborators at PFT provided clear goals for the redesign:
Create a user-friendly interface for journalists and researchers who want to search incidents, perform data analysis, or explore visualizations.
Improve reading experience, accessibility, and information architecture across the site.
Put incidents into context and tell stories that span multiple incidents along key narrative themes (e.g., racial justice protests).
Create a recognizable brand for the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, with multiple brand elements that can be used for promotional purposes, including on social media.
To map out a project plan and assign roles and responsibilities, team leaders considered how these goals squared with Accurat's core services. This way of thinking allowed us to break the project down into manageable activities. For example: to "create a user–friendly interface," we considered how we, as data designers, could establish an evidenced–backed process. We added specialists in data science and UX to our team, who were tasked with determining what a "user friendly interface" meant for PFT.
Research activities in the begnning phases of the partnership included comprehensive site mapping/auditing, interviews with "super"–users (e.g. journalists and attorneys), and web analytics. These steps ensured that every decision made henceforth could be backed by qualitative or quantitative data (or both), and set a firm foundation for subsequent phases of development—not to mention the future website.