The Institute for Fiscal Studies

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (The IFS) has the principal aim of better informing public debate on economics in order to promote the development of effective fiscal policy, something that we at CHD, with the mission of making important information more clear, more honest and more effective, wholeheartedly endorse.

The NHS has been facing a growing crisis over funding as supply and demands ever increase, and the IFS came to us and asked if we could help to create a tool which could help people understand the scale of projected NHS funding pressures and think about what these could mean for tax rises or spending cuts in other key areas such as welfare, defence, education or overseas aid.

We wanted to create something that could appeal to anyone regardless of the level of understanding around economics, government spending, or the NHS - but would also still be a valuable tool for experts to demonstrate their points.

Mockup of IFS tool on iMac screen
  • Client : The Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Website :
  • Issues : Politics, Explaining Complex Information, NHS Funding
  • Services Offered : Web Design, Web Development

Spring Statement 2018

The public debate around Philip Hammond's Spring Statement in 2018 was circling around whether there was going to be an increase in funding for the NHS and, if so, where the money would come from. The choices, while more complex than outlined here, centred around whether the additional funds would come from even more spending cuts, or from an increase in taxes. The IFS wanted to inform the public as much as possible before the statement so that they could join in the debate.

A simple to use micro-site

We realised that this would be the perfect opportunity to create a simple tool that would put the power in people's hands - the best way to communicate that there are no easy silver bullet solutions was to ask them to outline how they would fund the additional budget requirements, should they have the choice.

We created wireframes of the general concept, knowing that we wanted an intuitive and easy to use tool that would allow people to increase taxes, and decrease spending, to see how they would reach the target.

Wireframe of NHS budget tool

Conveying a lot of information, simply.

We knew that if this tool was going to be genuinely useful, then we would have to give contextual information to imbue the figures with real world meaning, to avoid them being seen just as abstract statistics and numbers.

There was then a challenge in providing this context without overwhelming people, instead allowing them to find the context as and when they needed it, and hiding it when they did not.

Graphic with text saying £64 billion inside.
Screenshot of the instructional overlay used in the IFS tool

The Dynamic Sidebar

We created a dynamic sidebar that could slide out and in from the side of the screen, giving more context and information around what the user was playing with on-screen.

The sidebar, which covered the larger funding total, also needed to display the same information as when it was uncovered - and so we also included a horizontal funding total in this smaller space.

Screenshot of IFS tool

Mobile challenges

Allowing users to access this information on mobile as easily as they could on desktop was another challenge for us; we neither wanted to compromise on what was visible, nor ease-of-use.

Key to the process was designing with mobile in mind right from the very beginning. As a result, the sidebar goal target that we created for the desktop version of the site could be easily repurposed to the bottom of the screen on mobile, allowing easy access to the sliders and tax inputs, whilst still keeping the same sidebar for additional information.

Mobile mockup of IFS tool

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