A portfolio of inclusive businesses for a sustainable future by Voilà:
FinDev Canada opened in 2018 with the goal of supporting the growth and sustainability of businesses in developing markets. After only two years of operations, they were ready to present their portfolio of projects to the world. FinDev Canada therefore asked us to develop a visualization with a double objective: to inform the public of the nature of the projects in progress and to serve as a dashboard for their employees. Our main challenge was to make the visual sufficiently attractive to a large audience while being sufficiently technical to answer specific questions from staff on the distribution of projects.
Our starting point, provided by the client, was a set of data and graphs that, at first glance, seemed unrelated. This became clearer when we realized that many of these categories were actually reorganizations of the same data. So we wanted to create a design that clarified this continuity and thus communicated the nature of each of the data. Our team explored many ideas for visualizations before settling on the alluvial graph, since it allows us to present different distributions of the same variable. In this case, the variable is the financial value (or number) of projects, as distributed across regions, investment types, sectors, and 2X eligibility. Each project is made visible by hovering the cursor over the graph, revealing that each column of the alluvial contains a proportional distribution of projects across categories. This instantaneous overview allows the user to navigate and access the information they are looking for quickly and clearly.
The client also wanted to highlight the three objectives that guide the direction of the projects: Women's economic empowerment, Climate mitigation and adaptation, and Market development. These objectives were their own challenge because they are not mutually exclusive or quantifiable: some projects may contribute to two or three objectives at once. An alluvial graph was therefore not suitable for such information. We solved this problem by using a different and simpler approach: located on the right side of the alluvial, the relevant objectives light up in color when a project is selected.
Moreover, we approach public dashboards with skepticism, as readers rarely have the patience to make selections from drop-down menus and lists. We chose to integrate the interactivity directly into the chart in an intuitive way, offering the option of filtering within the labels rather than in separate menus. Also, below the alluvial graph is a list of projects with a short description and a link to a page dedicated to each project. When a project is selected in the alluvial, its card moves to the top of the list, right below the graph.
Beyond the experience and the satisfaction brought by the fact that it was the very first interactive created by our team, we enjoyed exploring a different approach from the usual dashboards. But this project has its limits and that's the final lesson we're learning: to stay clear and readable, the maximum number of projects it can contain is limited and if the portfolio grows, a new visual path will have to be explored. To be continued!