New Signature worked with Food & Water Watch to re-envision their Factory Farm Map website. The Factory Farm Map website compellingly illustrates something that people in rural America have known for a long time: family farms are being replaced by factory farms, and these facilities are overwhelming some regions of the country.

The focal point of the website is the map, which displays the number of livestock on the largest operations in every county, by type of livestock, which is displayed on the density color scheme. Food & Water Watch compiled the data that drive the map from the 1997, 2002 and 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Census of Agriculture–a five-year survey of America’s farms. The map provides an easy-to-use and visually compelling interface for visitors to quickly browse multiple years of data, filter the data to specific data indicators, and view data at the national, state and county level. This interface provides visitors with a fluid exploration of the impact of factory farming across the United States from coast to coast. Visitors are also able to access an array of contextual interactive charts, rankings, and information at the national and state level.

The Factory Farm Map also provides visitors with information and tangible actions they can take that will result in sustainable and secure food systems that provide healthy food for consumers and an economically viable living for family farmers and rural communities. The website seamlessly integrates with the DemocracyInAction Salsa platform to allow visitors to sign up to receive emails, donate and take online actions including legislator contact, letters to the editor, and petitions.

Visitors can also embed a Factory Farm Map “The Facts” widget on their own website. The widget is built using JavaScript and displays a miniature Factory Farm map and pulls facts from the Factory Farm Map website. This widget empowers visitors to truly get involved in promoting the facts about factory farming on their own websites and blogs.

Factory Farm Map’s technical design was driven by the goals of the user experience instead of wiz-bang technology. The map itself uses established techniques along with newer techniques in JavaScript to retrieve data from the server asynchronously and create smooth transitions. The charts are created with the Google Visualization API which provides real-time charts. To improve the user experience of sharing the map, a user can send the current URL to a friend and the map will automatically show the correct location, year, and animal. To improve performance, the map takes advantage of localStorage, which came out of HTML5, to cache data for newer browsers. Underneath the hood, the site runs on WordPress 3 using a custom plugin to drive the map and Easy Post Types plugin to manage multiple post types for the textual information. Built using open technologies, the site is fully accessible on any platform, including the iPad and iPhone. There is a mobile version of the site for smaller form factor devices.