Goals for all means information for all

Searching for SDG news and commentary is fast and simple with IISD’s new SDG Knowledge Hub

Camellia Williams
Oct 26, 2016 · 4 min read

More than 30,000 news articles, policy briefs and event listings from nine IISD websites have been brought together into one comprehensive source of information and commentary on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Working closely with IISD, we designed and developed the front end of their new SDG Knowledge Hub to make sure all that content can be accessed quickly and easily.

The SDG Knowledge Hub features over 30,000 news articles, policy briefs and event listings on the SDGs

The fellowship of sustainable development

As the world negotiated the SDGs, it was always acknowledged that everyone would have to work together if the global community wanted to turn its lofty ambitions into action. The achievement of each individual SDG is inextricably linked to the success of other goals: gender equality and quality education reduces poverty; producing more food requires secure water supplies; and protecting life on land and in water supports sustainable consumption.

Effective communication is essential for building the bridges between different groups and IISD has been at the forefront of this effort for decades. When IISD decided to bring together everything they had published in a suite of Policy & Practice knowledge bases over an eight year period into a new, single portal, we were honoured to take up the challenge. Working together, IISD built the back end as we designed and developed the front end.

We knew we needed to build something that piques curiosity at every turn and helps people to find the links between each of the SDGs. It had to be a space for people to find new information that inspires new actions, a place that hastens rather than hinders collaboration.

The news page features a fast, dynamic filter bar

Fast, accurate search results

On the news page of the SDG Knowledge Hub there is a filter bar that provides extremely specific filter options. This gives people the option to go straight to what they are interested in or explore some options they haven’t looked at before. Whilst the filter makes it extremely easy to search the Hub’s content, it made it harder to keep the Javascript and AJAX functionality simple. Ed, our engineer who worked on this project, spent lots of time testing the queries he wrote to make sure the right articles appeared as each search criteria was selected. With some careful query building and the use of specific caching, we were able to build a site that is super fast and maintains full functionality.

The one ring to rule them all

To help people navigate between the thousands of articles contained in the SDG Knowledge Hub without getting lost, our designer, Daniel, developed some simple yet effective visual cues. The most prominent one is the SDG ring on the home page. By taking the circular symbol of the SDGs and extending each segment of it by a varying length, we’ve been able to visualise the scale of just how much has been written about each of the SDGs. When a segment is selected, information pops up with details of how many articles, policy briefs and events associated with that goal are available.

The SDG ring expands to provide more information about each SDG

Another visual cue we added was a small label on each of the articles that indicates which of the SDGs it is relevant to. If the article covers more than one Goal, it will say. It’s a little extra reassurance that you are on the right path to finding the information you seek.

The key to the success of this project was the close working relationship we had with IISD throughout development. We spoke with them at length about what they wanted to achieve with all their content and made sure we could complement their work on the back end of the site. We both knew that speed would be an important factor in making the experience of using the website pleasant and more rewarding for users, so it was great to work together to achieve this.

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future” J.R.R. Tolkien

We are committed to helping the international community reach the SDGs, and sharing knowledge is a vital part of making this happen. By making information freely available and easy to access, more people are empowered to take part in efforts to make our planet a more sustainable world to live in. Whichever combination of the 17 SDGs you are most interested in, you will find the latest news and commentary about it on IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub. Test out the search function for yourself and marvel at the scale of international effort to meet the targets of the SDGs.

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