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Making your research accessible for all

You’ve got the data. We help you communicate your findings to a wider, more influential audience

Project type: web design, data visualisation

Project links: accentbiasbritain.org

Does bias towards certain accents affect your chances in a job interview? Led by a team of researchers from Queen Mary’s University London (QMUL), the Accent Bias in Britain project examined this question. 

We worked with the QMUL team to design a website that would convey their complex findings in a visually appealing, accessible way. It needed to reach diverse audiences: from legal professionals and law students to HR administrators, universities and academics. 

Our close collaboration with the researchers helped them realise how best to frame their work for maximum impact. The website was key, generating media coverage for their work in prominent outlets like The Telegraph, The Independent, the BBC and Sky News.

"Smith&Brown's understanding of our project was so good that their suggestions became a key part of our own thinking about how best to present a complex set of research findings to the general public. We had no idea that working with them would make such a central contribution to the project itself."
Erez Levon
Professor of Sociolinguistics, QMUL
Turning complexity into clarity​

Academic projects are notoriously inaccessible. To identify the insights that would resonate with audiences and cut through the complexity, we had to really understand the research itself. We held calls and a face-to-face meeting with the research team, and digested a huge amount of background material on the project.

In collaboration with the QMUL team, we then designed a website and developed content that would quickly get across the key issues to someone briefly viewing the site, as well as encouraging visitors to explore in more depth. 

This meant smart signposting, a clear narrative, and using audio and visual media to convey the context, research methodology and findings. 

“We were really impressed with Adam and Mike’s level of engagement with our actual research project. We hadn’t anticipated that they would put that level of effort into understanding the project and the results, even the details of the data, before creating the website pages.”
Devyani Sharma
Professor of Sociolinguistics
Data you want to play with​

We knew that visualisations or interactive elements – ideally with an intuitive, playful design encouraging people’s natural curiosity – could both bring the data to life and prompt users to engage with the project’s findings. 

We settled on a series of simple graphs and other graphics alongside one ‘feature’ visualisation. This would allow users to explore the data from one of the project’s key pieces of work, a national survey of attitudes to five well-known UK accents.

Working with developer and long-time collaborator Adam Davis of admataz through a series of possible approaches – both visually and technically – we arrived at a simple, intuitive design we were all happy with. This let users explore how people from different socio-economic backgrounds evaluated the different accents, and the variations in responses. It even helped the QMUL team to get to know their data better.

"One challenge was the technical solution for the data visualisation. Adam and Mike's team were very committed and kept trying different approaches. Ultimately they were able to produce exactly what we had planned to have. The visualisation has been very popular with journalists, academics and other users. The sophisticated interactive platform they created actually allowed us to get to know our own data set better, through visual data exploration.”
Devyani Sharma
Professor of Sociolinguistics

Framing your message for maximum impact

The website was a big factor in the project’s overall success. It helped the research findings gain publicity not only in influential media, but also in the professional and academic circles targeted.

Just as rewarding was the feedback from the QMUL team. They’d asked for a website, but hadn’t expected the process to be so helpful in actually framing their findings in an accessible, interesting way for their wide range of audiences.

We were glad to be able to deliver the project and show the benefits of our strategic design approach too.

Photograph of article about the project from the independent newspaper

“We could not have communicated our findings nearly as effectively without the website, and it’s very unlikely there would have been the same level of media engagement. For example, a journalist for the Telegraph had explored the data visualisation before speaking to me, and this influenced the focus of his article. We had interest from the New York Times, the Independent, the BBC and other major outlets, all of whom had been able to understand and engage with our results thanks to the resources created by Smith&Brown.”

Erez Levon, Professor of sociolinguistics, QMUL