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dmi: 2017 Design Value Award Winner
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Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft is the Co-Founder of The Ballmer Group. For more than two years, the organization worked to collect all known and available government data in a project known as USAFacts.

Believing that factual information improves understanding and decision-making, the project’s mission was to make it easier for an average citizen, investigative journalist, or a Washington policymaker to search, find, and understand U.S. Government data. That’s no small task since more than 70 different government agencies report data in different ways, most of it in dense spreadsheets and tables. Anyone searching for government data had to ferret out the individual agency website, then delve into archives of spreadsheets and charts that made it hard to decipher trends, relationships, or insights.

The Ballmer Group brought the Seattle-based design and innovation firm Artefact on board. As the design partner, Artefact’s role was to use design thinking and data visualization to translate vast amounts of impenetrable data into an engaging online database with compelling data visualizations that would help people explore government data quickly and easily.

The initiative tested the agency’s skills. A design challenge of that magnitude and scope required extensive planning, rigorous process, and dedicated resources. Lead by a designer with extensive experience working with complex data, the design team worked alongside data scientists and researchers to understand each and every dataset. Months of research, experimentation, and refinement went into creating the most accurate and compelling visualizations possible.

Within the first 24 hours of the USAFacts website launch, the site racked up more than two million page views, a testament to the demand for such a resource. Today USAFacts is an unparalleled and unprecedented resource for users who have, for the first time, access to detailed, comprehensive, and comprehensible government data.


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