Data goes a long way towards informing the design process. It can pinpoint who your audience is, where they are, what they need, how they want it delivered, and how they want to pay for it.
Quality data can be difficult for public and social sector organizations to generate on their own, and expensive to purchase. Check out these sources of free, high quality social research data. (Use free visualization tools to explore and present your relevant data.)
General Social Survey (GSS)
I’ll let the GSS web site speak for itself:
“The GSS gathers data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes. Hundreds of trends have been tracked since 1972. In addition, since the GSS adopted questions from earlier surveys, trends can be followed for up to 70 years.
The GSS contains a standard core of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, plus topics of special interest. Among the topics covered are civil liberties, crime and violence, intergroup tolerance, morality, national spending priorities, psychological well-being, social mobility, and stress and traumatic events.
Altogether the GSS is the single best source for sociological and attitudinal trend data covering the United States. It allows researchers to examine the structure and functioning of society in general as well as the role played by relevant subgroups and to compare the United States to other nations.”
That’s a trove of data for researching and designing public and social sector goods and services.
And if that’s not enough, there’s even more free data at…
The GSS is just one of many social surveys that all participate in the International Social Survey Programme.
Again, I’ll let the survey web site speak for itself:
“The ISSP is a continuing annual programme of cross-national collaboration on surveys covering topics important for social science research.
It brings together pre-existing social science projects and coordinates research goals, thereby adding a cross-national, cross-cultural perspective to the individual national studies.
The ISSP researchers especially concentrate on developing questions that are meaningful and relevant to all countries, and can be expressed in an equivalent manner in all relevant languages.”
You can filter for just one country, a group or region of countries, or develop cross-cultural queries.