Animated GIF of USAFacts website header showing where the US government's money comes from and where it goes.

“[USAFacts] looks nothing like its bureaucratic counterparts or startups like OpenGov, which also tries to organize and parse government data. Its typeface is pleasingly legible. The site navigation is intuitive. But most importantly, Artefact has made dry facts and figures actually feel engaging.”

USAFacts aggregates the data of more than 60 different government agencies, from the US Census to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To manage these huge quantities of information, we designed a website framework that brings a structured, unified feel to the data, allowing for easy exploration and understanding.

The framework organizes the information around the central missions of government: establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Visitors to the site start exploring the data at the highest level possible: overall revenue and spending. From there, they can dive deeper into more specific subject areas, like education or defense spending. Within these categories, users can dial in on the data from different perspectives and through different filters, drawing their own conclusions and forming a deeper understanding of government impact.

Animated GIF on the USAFacts website showing total US federal, state, and local government spending in 2014.
Animated GIF on the USAFacts website of US K-12 education spending in 2012.
Animated GIF on the USAFacts website of education and vocational rehabilitation and employment spending in the US from 1980 to 2015.

Many times, data visualizations are used to tell a story—think of the common infographic. And yet, because the goal of USAFacts is to be unbiased and objective, our design crucially avoids storytelling and editorializing. We want users to draw their own conclusions, so we let the numbers speak for themselves.

Although the data visualizations are minimalistic and engaging, each has a source button that enables users to easily verify all the information for themselves. The source button links to original data sets and provides information on publication dates. It also directs people to the government agencies involved so they can continue their research. What’s more, a whole section of the site is devoted to explaining the choices and methodology used to organize the government data. As a result, the design of USAFacts reinforces the credibility and trustworthiness of the initiative.

What we delivered

+ Generative research

+ Foresight

+ Concept envisioning

+ Experience design

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