Government of Saskatchewan

Co-designing Saskatchewan’s dashboard

Citizens, municipalities, regional economic associations, and departments within the Government of Saskatchewan seek accurate macroeconomic data to better inform policy and investment decisions. Typically, economic indicators, such as the province’s GDP, population, and employment and housing data are available to the public. But the data is spread across multiple sources on the internet and requires considerable effort to aggregate. The Ministry of the Economy sought to establish a single source for macroeconomic data.

The Ministry of the Economy, along with the Government of Saskatchewan, set out to build an economic indicator dashboard with three goals in mind:

  1. Increase relevancy and accuracy of published economic indicator data
  2. Improve user self-sufficiency in obtaining and manipulating economic data
  3. Improve accessibility for all users to Government reported data

Prototype and test

To kickstart the project, we began with stakeholder interviews and a co-design session to establish an experience prototype that highlighted workflow for users and administrators. With an approved set of requirements, our efforts to select the right software to power the dashboard become much more focused. Our team evaluated a few tools based on research into indicator dashboards from across North America. We settled on an approach after demonstrating a technical prototype leveraging open-source tools. It was important to demonstrate how data could be parsed from Statistics Canada, served to a front-end framework and easily published. Within the first month of the project, the front-end experience and the technical specifics for how it would be achieved were approved before any visual design was completed.

workshop layout of colored sticky notes - design thinking

workshop layout of colored sticky notes - design thinking

Innovation through collaboration

Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it takes commitment from all parties involved. The co-design session, prototype development, testing and approval process allowed our teams to engage stakeholders early and often and establish buy-in for our design and development approaches. It was a total team effort as members of the Ministry of the Economy were engaged through visual design and into development--sometimes setting up in our office to fine tune workflow and test front-end functionality.

Foundation for the future

The result was a rapidly deployed single page application built on an open-source framework with automated data collection and administrative workflow that meets the Ministry of the Economy’s needs. What began as a dashboard for one government department can now be scaled, adding departments and indicators in the future.

Building a user-friendly and automated back-end was critical to improving the government’s ability to aggregate and share information. This project increased public sector transparency while simultaneously saving research time for interested citizens and organizations. Our approach on this project was nimble, lean, efficient and innovative.


Client Testimonial
Working through the co-design session with zu was an eye opening, rewarding experience. The two-day session brought together our stakeholders to brainstorm and prioritize design elements critical to achieving the goals of the project. zu's team coached us to think critically and creatively. It shifted our mindset from back-end operations to an intuitive, user-friendly front-end experience. zu's expertise in design thinking methods was paramount in the successful development of the Dashboard.
Ellen Glaze, Project Lead, Ministry of the Economy
What zu Thought
We applied a new approach to structuring innovative projects. One key takeaway for us was how we broke up the scope into phases to focus our efforts. First we defined the design challenge. Then we prototyped the technical pieces to validate assumptions we had made during the design phase. And finally, we delivered the product. The Economy team was patient, collaborative and supportive. Overall, they were a great partner to build something completely new for the Province.
Laurence Nixon, Account Director, zu