Mapping Community Data (the quick and easy edition)

As someone who has spent years understanding how to take community curated content like media, data and events and share them publicly (re: mapping community videos at My City Lives, events for Maker Party, club locations for Mozilla Clubs), I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Here’s just a few:

  1. A map can be a powerful representation of the scale of your data and the local or global diversity. That being said, it’s actually quite hard as a user to navigate data on a map, find items and get a good grasp of the content.
  2. There is power in the numbers. There’s no doubt that when a community member uploads a video or piece of data there is valuable information the organization receives such as how many people have shared a piece of data, who they are, where they are based and what they did. In the past, this was always the data we would store in the backend or share within the organization but so rarely do we use these numbers in a forward-facing way to motivate community members to continue sharing.
  3. Short and sweet. I’ll keep this short, you want to provide just the right amount of information and not loose people in the details. For every question, media or data being inputted by a community member there should be a reason as to why that piece of information is valuable (to the organization and onlookers).
  4. Easy to navigate and sort. I can’t stress this enough. When it gets hard to find events then people will stop using the product. Make it easy to navigate and allow for sorting functions that help an onlooker get to what they will find interesting quickly.

As the Mozilla Clubs program grows we know there are many clubs running regular events but we didn’t have proper mechanisms to capture what they were doing and show it in a public way. Creating an event reporting system was critical for us to gather event data, reward community members, share stories and show the impact of the global community. After months of scoping a plan to create an event report system, I was quickly reminded how much harder this is than it looks. You can get caught in the weeds of capturing and displaying user data trying too hard to make something visually appealing, or filled with information, or used by a global audience etc.

So when Matthew and Luke, Mozilla design superstars, came to us with an idea to break down the project and create a simple but efficient way to collect data I was weary that they thought it could be that easy. We sat down and identified the minimum number of questions we should ask and the value of the data we would capture. Within two weeks, TWO WEEKS!!!!!, they had a working prototype that we started testing with a couple community members. We did a quick review of our testing and one week later had a completed Mozilla Clubs Event Report system. It was quick, like really quick. And it was filled with features that I loved:

  • It was a Google Form (seriously, how simple and easy is that) for submitting events, which were then moderated by our team. The data is shared with us in a google spreadsheet and the staging site is on github.
  • At the top it shows how many events have been added, how many cities are represented and how many people have attended events. I find it personally encouraging, but I know it will also be motivating to our community members.
  • It’s simple which makes it easy to use but it’s fully branded so feels like it fits within our other products.
  • The searching works great. And as we curate more event reports, we will be adding sorting lists on the side for location, Web Literacy skills etc.

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Thanks to Hannah, Matthew, Luke and all of those that helped in this exciting process of creating a lean, quick and effective reporting system that still blows me away. It’s now time to put this into the communities hands.

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