The Client's Challenge
SPARC came to us to build a web-based resource which the community could use for tracking, comparing, and understanding both current and future U.S. federal funder research data sharing policies. Despite condensing thousands of pages of complex policy requirements into a single spreadsheet, SPARC was still faced with a complex User Experience challenge; how to display a significant amount of data on a single webpage and allow users to compare policy requirements from multiple federal agencies in a simple and intuitive manner.
We started by analyzing the various user types and determining all of the different use cases for this experience. Some users would want to see the requirements for only one agency, and some would need to quickly compare up to 3 agencies side by side. So we designed a user experience that allowed the user to stay on the same page the entire time without worrying about page reloads or confusing navigation. At any point on the page, the user can easily add and remove agencies to their search criteria in order to find the exact data that they need. On the tech side, we leveraged the power of React to quickly run through JSON to render agency requirements quickly. We built the application on Ruby on Rails and built a custom content management system that made it easy for the SPARC team to update and add additional data as the agency's data sharing policies evolved. Additionally, we built a fully responsive layout so that researchers could quickly access the information from any device, and then print or share their unique results and comparisons in one click.