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For City of Boston


Project Brief: 

We worked with the City of Boston’s (COB) Citywide Analytics Team in a two-week sprint to improve the city’s internal Public Works Dashboard (PWD) through an user-focused research and design process.  The end result was a design document outlining recommendations for the build of future internal operational dashboards.

MY ROLE: Design Strategist, Visual Designer, Design Researcher with a team of four other designers. 



research: why is data important?

The ability to quickly and clearly comprehend trends and performance in order to better understand the City’s operations is key for both internal stakeholders and the public.

“Data can be a useful tool for focusing people’s effort. If used well, we can deliver a higher quality of services for the people of Boston.”


about the city of boston's public works dashboard

The current PWD Dashboard does not provide any map, interactivity, or ability to dive into contextual data related to each datapoint. Our proposal improved the interactivity and depth of the dashboard.  





Our team spoke to key stakeholders and users of the PWD to identify concerns, expectations, and challenges related to this tool. We identified several important needs: 

  • Product consistency across different departmental dashboards.
  • The ability to identify trends and measure against performance metrics and KPIs.
  • Providing interactivity to view more in-depth data.
  • Providing context such as trends, location, backlog, customer service ratings, and progress.
  • Dashboards should convey data clearly, so they are accessible to new users or people that aren’t “in the weeds.”

design and visualization recommendations

Our recommendations pull from data visualization strategies and best practices in data usability. 


Recommendation One
Provide a 2 layered structure to organizing and displaying data. We conveyed this with a simple site map. 


Recommendation Two
Use a consistent structure that allows for data contextualization. This structure contains four components and is flexible to accommodate different types of data. 


Recommendation Three
Provide a consistent visual language to increase readability across multiple dashboards. We presented a style guide with best practices on color, typography, and and iconography. 


    sketches and ideation

    Our initial sketches sought to incorporate these recommendations. 


    user testing

    Several iterations were created, with user testing after each version to evaluate the clarity of the content. Key user feedback included: 

    • Rearranging the content on the main dashboard landing page to prioritize information
    • Adding mapping data to each category  
    • Combining data in the waste & recycling date, such as rate & cost savings
    • Adding more data to specific detail page