Develop an interactive visual essay exploring who's represented on today's currencies around the world.
The Pudding, an award-winning online publication focused on data journalism and interactive visual essays about pop culture.
While there are several (mostly outdated) databases where one can find information about the people on world banknotes, there was no up-to-date comprehensive source of information about this matter.
(data collection and analysis, writing, user interaction, visual design, prototyping and testing, social media graphics)
September 2021-April 2022
Co-author, web developer, managing editor
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Visual Code Studio
Initial Design Ideas
After performing data collection and analysis, we brainstormed visual and interactive ways to present our findings to readers. The document below outlines the section breakdown and graph styles we thought would be appropriate to showcase our findings.
We worked based on the assumption that the prospective users were young adults interested in data journalism since that is the profile of The Pudding readers.
• Targets the same audience
• Showcases the gender breakdown of banknote characters and their professions through static charts
• Discusses the cultural and historical significance of people on banknotes around the world
• Relies on text and banknote images to tell the story without using data to make an analysis
• Uses banknote portraits as main visual element
Our visual essay had an educational purpose so with that in mind, we opted for fonts and colors that make the site look academic without looking boring. We also decided to apply a black-and-white filter to all portraits to standardize them since some of them were in color and others weren't.
After defining the main product components and visual identity, I created high-fidelity prototypes for desktop and mobile on Figma.
Throughout the development process, we had several rounds of user testing to receive feedback. Here are some examples of functionalities we thought of implementing but ended up removing thanks to user testing.
Initial design idea: Adding a sidebar character (Frida Kahlo) that would "guide" the user throughout the reading, with bubble texts sharing interaction instructions and additional relevant fun facts.
Feedback: The character was taking away valuable virtual real estate that could be used to enlarge the graphs.
Final design decision: Add the interaction instructions below each graph title.
We also thought of having a dropdown menu where users could choose a country and then the banknotes of that country would display right below the paragraph. However, after interviews with users, they considered that the dropdown in the middle of the paragraph was distracting and broke the flow of the story. Therefore, this feature was removed from the final version of the visual essay.
The user testing feedback also told us that we should have a specific color for men and women that would remain the same throughout the various graphics. In that way, the user could easily know how many men and women were represented in the different graphs by just looking at them.
After several months of work and multiple iterations of the product, we launched it on April 2022. The article received favorable responses from readers and was featured on multiple email newsletters and websites including Morning Brew, Chartr and 1440 Daily Digest.
I was also in charge of creating social media graphics to promote the visual essay on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I created a slideshow summarizing the research findings so that readers would learn valuable information but also want to read the full article.