The goal of the website is to unite the data of FAO
FAO has a huge amount of food and agricultural data that is readily available to users all over the world. The data is in numerous formats and the complexity varies significantly. However, all of this valuable data is not yet united in one place on the internet. The goal of the upcoming data.fao.org website is to make this data openly and readily available to the public in one location.
Based on the groundbreaking work of Ethan Marcotte and his recent book on Responsive Web Design, the new data.fao.org will be fully responsive. The assumption that people visit the website from behind a desk is no longer valid, and therefore a more agile approach is needed to give a high quality user experience to our visitors.
Our task: no matter where our visitors are or what device they are using, they should always be able to browse, download and analyze our data in a convenient and user friendly way.
The coming soon page, a placeholder site where interested users can sign up for our Google Group, follow us on Twitter or Facebook and get notified the minute the site goes live, is already fully responsive and using CSS3 mediaqueries.
The data.fao.org coming soon site is fully responsive
We are in good company as shown by mediaqueri.es, a stunning overview site of responsive designs like the Do Lectures, Ubuntu One and Happy Cog Hosting.
Organized by What, Where and When
The cubes of data are so flexible, that it becomes tempting to not pin them down somewhere. But refraining from that makes the browsing of the data cubes very complex and unfriendly. Therefore data.fao.org provides 3 main entry points for the cubes of data: What (for example topics or dimensions like species or crops), Where (for example countries, regions, Fish catch areas or Agro Ecological Zones) and When (years, seasons or exact dates). We want to give the user a browsable experience where they can easily zoom in and out of the data or move up and down.
In brief, the cubes contain data that can vary in every possible aspect and type. But hey, that's what makes our job so nice. We enjoy finding solutions to achieve our goal of uniting our data and providing it to users in the most convenient way.
It's not just about the trends, also the availability counts
Looking at data trends is one of the most common ways to look at data and creating nice Data visualization tools is certainly at the core of any data website. However, that's just part of the story. Equally important are data quality (where does the data come from, how was it collected, where can I find the metadata?) and data availability.
One of many cool tools that were created during the Apps for Development competition is Blinddata made by Michael Benedict (see his presentation, starting at minute 17). He created a nice way of looking at data availability that shows the user at a glance how much data is available for a topic or indicator over the years for a particular country or region. This concept is very useful to integrate in the website
Call To Action please
We do not want to bother our visitors with internal procedures and structures, but get right at the data. That's why we focus on a short list of Calls To Action (CTA) on clear Landing pages for all elements of the data cubes. Every country, topic, dataset or dimension has its own landing page, where the most current and important information is put together with clear CTAs, like slice and dice (for more flexibility we provide a data page with powerful filtering and pivoting options), download (to view the data in your preferred data visualization tool), subscribe (to get notified when new data is available), embed (to use our flexible widgets on your own blog or article) or share (using one of the many social media platforms).
For more information on Landing pages and CTAs read the excellent Unbounce Blog made by Oli Gardner.
Author: Henry Burgsteden