Building the field of data for social impact

Project: Research, Strategy & Design


Category: Non-profit

Responsibilities: Research, Workshop Facilitation, Digital & Content Strategy, User Experience Design, User Testing, Visual Design

The Challenge

Launched by The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, is a global organisation that helps convene and coordinate philanthropy, private sector technology, academia, and social impact organisations around the globe in order to build the field of data and AI for social impact. wanted to explore some innovative new features and content types for their existing digital platform in order to secure new funders and better support the organisations and communities they work with.

We were brought in to help ensure the right problems were being solved, validate initial concepts and assumptions through extensive research, and to create a user experience and design that would appeal to the target audience. 

A collage of assets from new UI designs

Research & Discovery

Over the course of the project we conducted multiple rounds of qualitative user research in order to better understand the needs of stakeholders, funders, and the various audiences of This included:

- Research interviews with stakeholders, funders, non-profit organisations, and academics 

- User testing sessions 

- A survey conducted with participants from various audiences 

- Multiple co-creation workshops with the team

The insights gained from the research directly informed a new and exciting strategy for and the creation of multiple new features and content types for the website including Playbooks, Guides, AI powered recommendations, and for the first time - user sign-in and registration.

Playbooks frequently works on initiatives and projects where the learnings need to be disseminated in a consumable way, however this can be a challenge because of the amount of information that is generated. These multi-year, multi-organisation initiatives result in so much content, that a single blog post or even a series of blog posts quickly become insufficient. Structured content organised around an evergreen theme will have longer lasting benefits for and be far more findable and useable for their audience.  With that in mind, we worked with on a new content type for their website called ‘Playbooks’. Playbooks allow for a high volume of information but remain easily navigable for readers. Based on the diverse needs we uncovered of both the creators and the consumers of these future playbooks, we ensured the playbooks are highly flexible and can allow for a variety of different ways to display information.

Our expert design team used the existing brand guidelines as a base and extended them by exploring additional colours, iconography, and typography style to differentiate the playbooks from the rest of the existing site. The end result is a really vibrant and dynamic design which stands out from a crowded field of visually unappealing playbooks. 

Desktop and mobile screens of the playbooks
Mobile screens showing the playbook designs

Guides already had a series of existing guides on their site around common data-related challenges, however they were in need of a refresh. Additionally, during user testing with non-profit audiences we found that users preferred guides that were concise and that solved their particular problem all in one place, rather than seeing a long list of links and resources. We helped design a brand new guide format that was more engaging and introduced interactivity, allowing users to track and save their progress. 

To help users find guides suitable for their need, we also designed a ‘Guide Finder’. Users can answer a few quick questions about themselves in order to see the data challenges most relevant to their situation.

Desktop screen showing homepage with new Guide Finder module
Desktop screen showing the guide finder

AI Recommendation Engine (BETA)

We worked with on an experimental recommendation engine that would harness the power of artificial intelligence to create bespoke guides for any data related query a user asked. Using a combination of AI response summarisation and recommended resources curated from the extensive resource library, a user is supported in solving the most unique challenges. 

Like with playbooks, our visual designers extended the existing brand guidelines to introduce new visual elements such as background gradients and new typography treatments. 

User Accounts

As expands their digital offering it became clear that it would be beneficial to introduce user accounts so people could have one place to go to see their progress, results, and saved content. We helped create a user-friendly account dashboard that quickly shows at a glance any new content since your last visit alongside your in progress and completed guides, your past data maturity assessment results, and your bookmarks.

Mobile screens showing the new account desings


All of the new features are live now. We are working closely with to monitor performance and identify areas for improvement and iteration. We look forward to building on these innovations to create a truly industry-leading platform for

“Expanding, we needed a partner who would bring strategy and design expertise – but also demonstrate sensitivity to the needs of the social impact sector. Furthermore was able to offer high level insight and planning along with a user experience that engaged our community.” - Perry Hewitt, Chief Marketing & Product Officer
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