UI design, development, mapbox
OpenStax is a Rice University-based nonprofit that publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, openly-licensed college textbooks and develops research-based courseware. OpenStax is actively combating the student debt crisis by making their textbooks available online for free or as physical copies for the same amount they cost to print. With all the progress that has been made thus far, OpenStax came to Baal & Spots looking to build an interactive map that allows digital visitors to see OpenStax’s impact on a global scale with the goal of growing visibility and building support for their initiative.
Based on thorough interviews and strategy development, we decided to use a heat map with an advanced search feature that allows site visitors to filter for and view four key variables.
Users should be able to search by country, state, city or name of the institution.
Users should be able to see student savings (both annual and cumulative) by institution and filter for schools that have saved $1 million or more.
Users should be able to filter for OpenStax institutional partners, colleges/universities, technical/community colleges and high schools.
Users should be able to submit testimonials for individual institutions and filter for schools that have written testimonials.
The 5,000–10,000 data points necessary for this project resided in Salesforce CRM. Should the data have remained there, site visitors would have experienced a significant lag after each individual map query. Additionally, Salesforce charges per each individual API query, which is not cost-efficient. There are multiple ways to connect databases.
In this case, the simplest means (which still requires a good deal of know-how) was the best one. Baal & Spots worked with the OpenStax back-end team to connect the Salesforce database with an OpenStax database. The latter is updated automatically each day, making retrieving data from OpenStax’s database to the map page quick, responsive, reliable and useful.
We wanted the layout and the search functions for the interactive map to be intuitive. To achieve this, we first connected Mapbox API to OpenStax’s database. Mapbox could then pull all of the institutions’ data and display it on the map. From our close collaboration with the OpenStax development and operations team, the project resulted in a robust search and filter function that both anticipates and enhances the user’s experience.
Five software technologies, one seamless experience.
I have worked with Baal & Spots for numerous design and web related projects. Their team is very responsive and flexible — a valuable asset to a busy internal marketing and communications team like ours. Baal & Spots has helped us respond quickly to changes in our industry and adjust our campaigns appropriately. They consistently deliver work on time and according to specifications, and they have been extremely helpful in solving technical issues.
Marketing & Communications , OpenStax, Rice University