Water For People and EffectiveUI

Please tell us about the difference-making experience generally and how it’s caused positive outcomes, and help us understand what makes this example noteworthy or exceptional.: 

Project Description  Water For People is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting improved access to water and sanitation systems and services in developing countries. The organization enlisted user experience agency EffectiveUI to create a reporting platform as part of its Re-Imagine Reporting initiative. The resulting platform is a completely new and transparent way for Water For People to manage data, improve its outcomes, and prove its efficacy to their stakeholders.

Project Purpose/Organizational Goals Ultimately, Water For People was looking for a way to track and hone the progress it is making toward solving the water and sanitation crisis via its programs. At the same time, the organization wanted to shift from the traditional financial reporting structure of a non-profit organization and instead provide stakeholders and donors with a visual application that shows exactly the progress being made with their contributions. The Re-Imagine Reporting platform will not only help the organization support programs that have deeper, long-term impact, but also more effectively demonstrate the impact of the contributions it receives.

Target Audiences The reporting tool is designed to produce a visual snapshot, which will allow staff, partners, communities, donors, and the broader nonprofit community to see programmatic outcomes, challenges faced, and future direction. Using a visually compelling approach to reporting, the platform will allow donors to ensure their money is being used effectively while providing a comprehensive view of field results over time.

User Goals/Challenges, How They Were Addressed The Re-Imagine Reporting platform is an interactive window into Water For People’s progress over time, showing the organization’s successes and challenges, while giving stakeholders a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of Everyone Forever versus a spreadsheet with line items and figures. Re-Imagine Reporting aimed to:

  • Visualize financial data, partnership assessments and yearly country program analyses in a way that makes the information meaningful and easy to understand
  • Display the totality of ongoing work, allowing stakeholders to see the overall impact as well as the ability to drill down into regions, countries, and districts
  • Allow donors and the broader development community to see the breadth of outcomes and impact In addition, the platform needed to be easily managed and understood by staff and partners in 10 different countries, providing the ability for them to reflect on organizational data and insight and make informed decisions to adjust on-the-ground operations as needed.

UX Process, Methodology and Approach From a design standpoint, the platform needed to address the need for audiences to understand the financial impact the organization’s donors were making, but also help them understand the emotional impact their contributions are helping to achieve. The design team aimed to create a comprehensive structure to the reporting tool – beginning with an overview to show the global impact Water For People is working toward. EffectiveUI spent time studying the content to be delivered and looking at different visualization techniques to determine the best way to convey the data so that it could easily provide a snapshot of results and progress as well as the ability for viewers to drill down deeply into the data. The team landed on a storytelling approach, combining visual financial and statistical data with emotive video and text that helps stakeholders really understand the impact of their contributions. Re-Imagine Reporting was also designed with other platforms in mind so that it can eventually be re-created for mobile or tablet, giving easy interaction access to stakeholders from multiple channels. EffectiveUI selected Liferay, a Java-based open source portal solution, as the backbone of the Re-Imagine Reporting platform. The Liferay Portal provided real-time content management system (CMS) editing capabilities, as well as the ability to upload financial and program data and build custom application elements. In order to create the most immersive experience across multiple devices for stakeholders and field staff, the Re-Imagine Reporting platform also incorporates HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Charts and graphs were rendered in Highcharts, a rich JavaScript charting library.

An Exceptional User Experience The Re-Imagine Reporting platform will increase the ability for Water For People’s programmatic team and their partners to measure progress and adjust programs for even more impact over time. With the platform, the organization is working to inspire the entire water sector to aim for long-term results rather than shortsighted one-off projects that make little to no progress as the true goal of solving water poverty. Additionally it creates empathy among stakeholders and donors. The platform delivers the familiar visual and feel of an interactive results and financial report, but also supplements the data with videos, photos, social media and stories to foster a visual, emotional experience that demonstrates how they helped Water For People work toward its goals as well as show the work that still needs to be done. By allowing large donors to see exactly where their funds are going, they are more invested in the process. Small donors can also clearly see that their contribution is making a difference in the overall goals of the organization.

What can others learn from the successes and failures of how you designed a digital experience to meet an important need?: 

Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People, believes this reporting tool can change the way all non-profits demonstrate their progress to stakeholders. He recently wrote an article for Chronicle of Philanthropy on this topic.

What are the key ways the design of the solution’s user experience influences its success?: 

Water For People is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting improved access to water and sanitation systems and services in developing countries. The organization enlisted user experience agency EffectiveUI to create a reporting platform as part of its Re-Imagine Reporting initiative. The resulting platform is a completely new and transparent way for Water For People to manage data, improve its outcomes, and prove its efficacy to their stakeholders.

Ultimately, Water For People was looking for a way to track and hone the progress it is making toward solving the water and sanitation crisis via its programs. At the same time, the organization wanted to shift from the traditional financial reporting structure of a non-profit organization and instead provide stakeholders and donors with a visual application that shows exactly the progress being made with their contributions. The Re-Imagine Reporting platform will not only help the organization support programs that have deeper, long-term impact, but also more effectively demonstrate the impact of the contributions it receives.

The reporting tool is designed to produce a visual snapshot, which will allow staff, partners, communities, donors, and the broader nonprofit community to see programmatic outcomes, challenges faced, and future direction. Using a visually compelling approach to reporting, the platform will allow donors to ensure their money is being used effectively while providing a comprehensive view of field results over time.

The Re-Imagine Reporting platform is an interactive window into Water For People’s progress over time, showing the organization’s successes and challenges, while giving stakeholders a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of Everyone Forever versus a spreadsheet with line items and figures. Re-Imagine Reporting aimed to:

  • Visualize financial data, partnership assessments and yearly country program analyses in a way that makes the information meaningful and easy to understand
  • Display the totality of ongoing work, allowing stakeholders to see the overall impact as well as the ability to drill down into regions, countries, and districts
  • Allow donors and the broader development community to see the breadth of outcomes and impact
     
What user research did you use or perform in designing the solution, and what were the most interesting effects of that research in the solution’s design?: 

From a design standpoint, the platform needed to address the need for audiences to understand the financial impact the organization’s donors were making, but also help them understand the emotional impact their contributions are helping to achieve.

The design team aimed to create a comprehensive structure to the reporting tool – beginning with an overview to show the global impact Water For People is working toward. EffectiveUI spent time studying the content to be delivered and looking at different visualization techniques to determine the best way to convey the data so that it could easily provide a snapshot of results and progress as well as the ability for viewers to drill down deeply into the data.

The team landed on a storytelling approach, combining visual financial and statistical data with emotive video and text that helps stakeholders really understand the impact of their contributions. Re-Imagine Reporting was also designed with other platforms in mind so that it can eventually be re-created for mobile or tablet, giving easy interaction access to stakeholders from multiple channels.

How might your solution serve as the inspiration or starting point for future solutions to other individual, societal, or world needs?: 

This platform and approach could help nonprofits not only be more transparent in reporting its progress to donors and stakeholders, but also helps nonprofits see where they can improve their efforts or make changes for the better.

Please share any quantitative, qualitative, and/or anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the design of your solution’s user experience in solving a pressing need.: 

We have received very positive feedback from the teams working on the ground in the districts we serve. One of our team members in Latin America says: “Re-Imagine Reporting has allowed us to have conversations that we don’t think were ever before possible (i.e. about who should have certain roles in a district long term, or what a municipality should spend to support water and sanitation over-time).” In addition, a government official in the Chikhwawa district in Malawi provided the following feedback: “I have always been asking why only government funds /resources are given public eye and not NGOs, yet we might be getting these funds from same donors. I hope NGOs in Chikhwawa do the same. Some NGOs go behind the government in implementation, giving communities sub-standard services or facilities.” We think this is really powerful in showing the impact of Re-Imagine Reporting. It has allowed us to build deeper and better partnerships with the local district governments, as they see that we are being transparent and accountable with funds. In Malawi, particularly with the Chikhwawa district government, we have built a stronger relationship with them around Everyone Forever, and they are now owners and leading the Everyone Forever process in their district. We have now signed a 5-year MOU with the district government committing to reaching Everyone Forever!