We worked with Truckee Meadows Tomorrow to provide
Custom Responsive Web Design
WordPress Website Development
Data Visualization Consulting
Content is the big ruler guy who wears a crown..
Blah blah blah. How many blog posts have you read that told you that? I KNOW! But what does that even mean, and how do you act on that fact?
So Truckee Meadows Tomorrow has content. That content is data plots of quality of life indicators over time. This was challenging for two reasons.
First, there are over 160 data measures and more coming every year while existing data measures are updated. So they needed a way to figure out how to sort and present them in a way that made sense, was easy to discover and wasn’t just a blog feed.
Second, Excel tables and charts are boring and static, not social or interactive and on top of that are boring.
Using a custom taxonomy in WordPress we created an organization scheme for the data measures. The home page shows a grid of 9 categories in this custom taxonomy. When you click on one, you get a description of that category and when you click through you get a grid of Indicators in that Category and some info about that category. (These are sub-categories in the custom taxonomy.) The indicators are the various criteria TMT uses to gage and monitor quality of life.
Clicking through the indicators gets you to a grid of the data measures that have been prepared with interactive plots, links, sources and more information. So far these are all pages that are dynamically generated without TMT staff having to edit any code or files. Simply editing the taxonomy is reflected in the page automatically.
Data measures are entered as custom posts and assigned to the indicator to which they belong in the custom taxonomy.
Being able to visualize the data associated with the indicators is the main value add for Truckee Meadows Tomorrow. Many of their members, sponsors and supporters use the data and visualizations for business development purposes. As such, having those look as good as possible and be as useful as possible while not being especially hard to produce, is huge.
I searched high and low for code libraries on which we could build a custom data visualization system. There are a lot of great options, but they would have all required code skills, or costly development of a custom tool. Then I found Ploy.ly.
Ploy.ly is like YouTube for data visualizations. You can use it through an API if you want to, as part of a dashboard, or to output visualizations from GIS or MatLab, or you can use the dashboard interface to create plots on the web, then embed them on a website. So that’s what we did. They are slightly less easy than creating a plot in Excel, however they have more ability to show multiple axis and they are interactive. They can be shared socially and users can create a Plot.ly profile and make their own plots with the data.
In a world where infographics are just pretty pictures with numbers and science is becoming cool, this is an awesome tool to get the community engaged in quality of life data.
Recurring Memberships & Private Content
The e-commerce system has recurring memberships, straight donations and sponsorships as well as the ability to sell any physical, virtual, downloadable or recurring product. Transactions are handled via Stripe which is cheeper and easier than their former transaction processor, and allows them to take in-person payments with a mobile phone.
Members of Truckee Meadows Tomorrow can view all of the raw data files in their member profile by logging in. They are stored in embedded Box.net folders so TMT does not have to constantly FTP files up to the site. They just keep it in a folder and it gets slurped up.
Of course this custom website design is all responsive. Lars used the Bootstrap framework to create a site that works well with everything. And for those of you who didn’t already know. That little 3 line icon that the menu disappears into when the screen scales down for the phone is called the “Hamburger.” That kills me.
Thanks for reading!