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A Site to Behold: The Story of the Accountability Initiative Website – Part II

14 Apr 20160 Comment

The most intensively technical aspect of the Accountability Initiative website was not the actual technology the site was built on. It was deciphering and establishing the relationships between and across the different types of content that would populate the website.

As we mentioned in our last blog, content was truly king for Accountability Initiative. They didn’t want (or need) any bells and whistles on their website. A website with publications categorised in a myriad ways was our major challenge. These classifications were no doubt complex, but they also had to be comprehensible.

On the surface, the classification looked straightforward enough. All research publications were a type of ‘Knowledge Product’. Broadly, these products could either be categorised as Public Finance, if it related to budgets or fund-flows, or Public Administration, if it related to bureaucracy and governance. A third category – Data Charts – was dedicated to showcasing data visualisations.

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Then it starts to get a little more complicated. Publications under ‘Accountability and Public Finance’ could either related to the budget (‘Budget Briefs’) or stem from AI’s own intensive research undertaking – their ‘PAISA Studies.’

‘Accountability and Public Administration’ looked at two types of content as well – ‘Social Accountability’ or studies focussing on citizen-led engagement, and ‘Understanding Bureaucracy’, which, as the name suggests, looked at clarifying how decisions are made within bureaucratic structures.

These weren’t the only types of content we were dealing with. The Accountability Initiative stands for accountability in every sense and believes the only way that we, as citizens, can hold service providers, administration and the government accountable for their actions is if we can track them. This is why the ‘Learning Hub’ was so crucial to the website.

Through the Learning Hub, users could elect to sit through the PAISA course – a series of videos and reading material curated with the express aim of teaching the basic principles of public finance and public administration so that every citizen is equipped to track and hold accountable those responsible for the delivery of services. Helping the PAISA course along were the Toolkits AI has developed across a variety of sectors – most specifically: education, nutrition, panchayats and infant & maternal health.

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As if this categorisation wasn’t enough, we also needed all of this content – as well as the blog – to be tagged consistently. This meant that not only did we have these broad content types, but each of them also had their own set of tags through which the user could filter and sort publications on any given page. Thanks to the tags, we could also have publication from across the site show up as related content in more regularly updated pages like the blog.

Not only is the Accountability Initiative site today customised right down to the very last character on every page, it has a Drupal-based content management system that is customised just as precisely, without losing any of its user-friendliness. Thanks to an elaborate How-to document we prepared, the Accountability Initiative team today is entirely independent when it comes to creating an uploading content across the website.

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For us, the usability of the Accountability Initiative’s content management system is one of our biggest achievement. We wish we could take you through the inner workings of the system, but that would be like a magician revealing his/her secrets. You’ll just have to content yourselves with navigating the website itself. Here’s a glimpse at what the site looks like:

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If you have any comments, feedback or questions, feel free to contact us!


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