Our design and development process

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The design & development process of new projects follows the following steps from initial ideas to publication on the ImpVis website:

Connecting with our community

ImpVis has three platforms of communication for separate purposes:

  • The website, which is public-facing and displays all our finalised visualisations plus current projects. If you wish to become an ImpVis member, you need to register so the site's full functionality is available to you.
  • This Wiki, which is our 'dynamic knowledgebase'. Here you can find out everything about how we work together, as well as guidance to help you design and code up your visualisation. Projects have their own associated Wiki pages which serve as 'ReadMe' files to document their aim, learning outcomes, and development. Most of the Wiki is only visible to ImpVis members. If you are signed up to the ImpVis website, you will automatically have an associated Wiki account with username of the format FirstnameLastname as entered during your ImpVis registration, with the same password as for the ImpVis website. Alternatively you can create a Wiki account by clicking the 'Create Account' link at the top right of the Wiki page.
  • Our Teams space, which is the main communication platform for our team. This is where we set up meetings and discuss projects in dedicated channels. Request access to our Teams space here.

Getting involved on a visualisation project

Once you have connected with our community, you can get started on a project. You can choose to propose your own project, or sign up to an advertised project. Read all about how to do this here.

Visualisation design based on aims and learning outcomes

A good design process is fundamental to creating an effective interactive visualisation for education. Before any coding starts, there needs to be a clear plan for ‘version 1.0’ of the visualisation. This requires clearly defining the following:

  • How will the visualisation fit into the module for which it is intended (its implementation)?
  • What are the most important points that users of the visualisation need to take away from it (the intended learning outcomes)?
  • What will the visualisation look like and how will it work? You will need to create a design sketch, including the visual and interactive elements of the visualisation.

All of the above will need to be documented on the visualisation's dedicated Wiki project page. Find guidance on design decisions in our knowledgebase.

Once all staff partners are happy with the design, they formally confirm their agreement on the website to move their project to the development stage (read here about how to do this).

Visualisation development in Javascript and HTML

This is the programming phase. With the aid of a visualisation template the ‘version 1.0’ functionality of the visualisation will be coded up in Javascript / HTML / CSS. In our knowledgebase you can find extensive guidance on the coding process as well as tips on how to get started learning the relevant programming languages and packages.

At this stage, it is vital to remain focussed on the original design and intended learning outcomes. During the coding process, it is common to have many new ideas for improvement. However, this can lead to a visualisation never being finished to a sufficient standard to be used by learners. We therefore follow an agile development process: ensuring that ‘version 1.0’ of each visualisation is uploaded for review as soon as the initial design has been realised, before implementing further extensions. This means you are more likely to achieve the satisfaction of seeing your visualisation put to good use by learners!

Ensure to note down any extension ideas in the 'Future Work' section of your Wiki page. You can design and develop these at a later phase, when your original ideas have been fully developed and uploaded.

Review process by peers and staff partner(s)

Once all the functionality in the initial design has been coded up, the visualisation will be reviewed by peers and the staff partner. This process is done via the ImpVis website.

Reviewers can raise any issues they find via the website and indicate their priority. Developers will be notified of any issues raised - they can then implement these and upload a new version of the visualisation.

Find full guidance on everything to do with uploading and reviewing in our knowledgebase.

Publication on the website

Once all reviewers have finished their review and there are no outstanding critical issues, the visualisation will automatically be approved and published on the 'Teach' environment of the website. The only remaining action is to link the visualisation to the module for which it was intended, by creating a Collection for publication on the 'Learn' environment of the website. This will ensure students can find relevant visualisations easily. As always, find full guidance in our knowledgebase.

Further updates to the visualisation

Finally, once all the steps above have been taken for 'version 1.0' of the visualisation, any future work ideas may initiate a new project or a new design phase for a more advanced version of the visualisation. Ensure that any updates to the visualisation design are documented in the visualisation's Wiki page and contributors duly credited. New versions can be uploaded to supersede all visualisation versions.