We recently completed a collaboration with Frog Design to understand what users want to see in the future Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform. Over several months, we interviewed more than 100 OCHA staff and humanitarian partners in New York, Colombia and Kenya.

OCHA Staff in Interviews with frog

Photo credit: Yumi Endo

The Frog team led interactive design sessions that included day-in-the-life accounts, card sorting, and imagining the types of questions users would want data to answer. The result was five key principles to guide our development. In brief, users want HDX to be practical, friendly, social, trusted and strategic.

Informed by the humanitarian community, the future of HDX points to fast access to meaningful data and insightful analytics. With the HDX beta as our starting point, here is an overview of what’s to come:


We will introduce a variety of analytic features that range from simple visualizations to more complex analysis of indicators. For example, being able to compare the number of people in need across multiple countries or exploring which regions within a country have the most internally displaced people.

(Click on the images to see the demonstration page.)

  • Visualize

    Users will be able to generate a quick visual summary of indicators.

  • features_circles_visualize
  • Customize

    Users will be able to customize how indicators are visualized and then download their visuals for use in reports or web pages.

  • features_circles_customize
  • Compare

    Users will be able to compare indicators at varying levels of detail, whether that’s across multiple countries or within a single country.

  • features_circles_compare



Users will be able to browse the entire HDX collection in one view. This will include a breakdown of the data into groupings that are intuitive to humanitarians: locations, topics and organizations. We will loosely integrate these pages with corresponding ReliefWeb pages for easy navigation from information products to data.

(Click on the image to see the full browse demonstration page.)


Country pages

We will introduce country pages that provide a summary of relevant indicators and datasets. Local offices will eventually have the capability to customize which data they present to users. Topic and organization pages will follow the same design pattern. We hope to introduce crisis and regional pages in 2015.

(Click on the image to see the full country demonstration page.)



We will also introduce a new navigation that elevates search as the primary way to find data in HDX.  And we will continue to improve how users contribute data through HDX, integrating data from existing systems where
we can, and ensuring an easy process for uploading spreadsheets and generating maps and graphs from them.

Take a look at the demonstrations that Frog created and check out our first attempt at the indicator page. Let us know if we are on the right track. Send us an email!

Finally, a special thanks to the Frog team for their contribution. We learned a lot about user-centred design and the creative process, and we look forward to continued collaboration.