California Child Welfare Indicators Project
Intuitive Data Discovery
2018 UX Research + Design
The California Child Welfare Indicators Project (CCWIP) is a collaborative venture between the University of California at Berkeley and the California Department of Social Services. The project is housed in the School of Social Welfare, and provides policymakers, child welfare workers, researchers, and the public with direct access to customizable information on California’s entire child welfare system.
This client project was developed as a team with Conner Hunihan, Ashish Sur, and Kaushiki Priyam.
User Segmentation and Needs
In order to better understand the complex system surrounding child welfare data retrieval, we sat down with the CCWIP team (Director, Front-end Engineer, Back-end Engineer, and Researcher). Through in depth interviews and hands on sessions, we were able to guide the redesign in the right direction.
We created a use case matrix that delved into the CCWIP users characteristics. We made note of each user’s use case, need, motivation, technical skill, and more.
Identifying the Problem
To better evaluate the current website, we made a detailed content audit. This helped us understand the bulk of information within the site and how it is organized. The site hierarchy map broke down the main navigation of the site for the reports. To get to an exportable report (graph/table) users can view them organized by measure and organized by topic. Unfortunately, currently those pages are laden with text and hyperlinks and lack a user friendly navigational system.
From our interviews we decided to focus on two personas.
The Child Welfare Analyst - John Hicks is a county analyst and represents the largest percentage of users on the site. He has two main use cases. He visits the site once every five years to rewrite the System Improvement Plan (SIP). He also visits the site to periodically evaluate the SIP. The second is less intensive and occurs more often.
The Journalist - Amanda May is journalist who advocates for child welfare. She researches trends in children welfare data to discover issues and report on them. She is not as familiar with the filtering system on the site and wants high level statistics and patterns.
After defining the target users for the redesign, we created a mental model for the ideal user flow through the CCWIP website. This shows the high level user journey for users to get to a report while also allowing for some discovery between reports and measures.
Restructuring the System
In order to ensure seamless navigation through the site, we restructured the site hierarchy and made the filters be part of the report page itself. We also decided to link other related reports within the report page itself. This encourages data exploration and lessens the back and forth. We developed the flow highlighted in blue below.
The team worked collaboratively through Figma and created a unified design system to tie in all the visual elements. We used the U.S. Web Design System as our base and focused on expanding it to suit CCWIP’s branding and needs.
The design system and screens were uploaded to Zeplin for engineering handoff so developers had exact CSS properties and values. All suggested changes were outlined and scored in a spreadsheet according to impact and effort. These values were then used to calculate an overall priority score that can be used by CCWIP staff for help determine the project roadmap.
It was a joy working with Information School graduate students on this project for CCWIP. We made sure to communicate with the client on a weekly basis and update them on the progress so far and hear their feedback every step of the way. We consulted with their front end and back end engineers on the organization of the site, and interviewed the director and researchers for user testing.
After the final presentation, the clients had enthusiastic feedback.
“We asked you to focus on our technical users, but your design actually addresses the needs of both main user groups…you solved for more than we knew we could even ask for”
– Wendy Wiegmann, CCWIP Project Director
"The clean, simplified look of the new design is the result of your team's innovative ability to transform a complicated site into one that's now intuitive and user-friendly. We were greatly impressed by your team's technical expertise, the collaborative approach to our project and the adept conceptualization of detailed information. Thank you for delivering an excellent product that far exceeded our expectations."
– Markus Exel, CCWIP Software Engineer
Looking back, here are some things I would want to develop more.
Test the final prototype with more of our core users- the child welfare analysts and journalists. In particular, test the number of steps and the amount of time it takes for users to find a report they want.
Fortify the reports page’s advanced filters. Filter categories vary from report to report and consolidating these factors with a detailed design system would be best.