Encode Explorer for Nature Publishing Group

We have just completed the Encode Explorer for Nature Publishing Group, an application that shows connections between papers written using human genome data.

The Brief

The first important papers to build on the release of the human genome data are now being published. Nature Publishing Group wanted to show the thematic connections between these papers beyond the common subject and contributors.

They wanted an interface that would allow users to navigate papers by this system of editorial subject ‘threads’. Nature have a lot of experience in science visualisations for print but this was their most ambitious digital visualisation to date.


Crucial to this particular application were the concerns of different stakeholders. The planning phase required editorial teams to both understand the threads concept as well as test our prototypes for scientific integrity. Alongside this, we wanted it to work across browsers and on tablets too, so the visualisation would need to be robust and usable as well as innovative.


This application is mainly steered by the sensitive colour hierarchies. We were fortunate that there were enough threads to allow colour coding with enough difference between colours. The main accent colour was reserved not for a key data points as usual but for key functional elements such as buttons and call outs.

This is the crux of Data Experience Design – it is not just the visualisation we need to design but the whole context of the visualisation too, the controls, links with other sites or apps, all putting the user at the heart of the interface design process.


We worked with Nature’s editorial and design teams to develop a UI that would both expose the complexity of connections and be easy to use.

Our development partners Made By Pi were excellent, especially in refining the product for accessibility and execution across many browsers including tablets.


We want to do more work in the science and medical world so get in touch here.