The Cancer Atlas is a powerful tool providing basic information on the global burden of cancer in a user-friendly and highly accessible way. The goal: empower global cancer leaders with data and insights to fight against the cancer epidemic.

The staff at American Cancer Society (ACS), in partnership with International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), collected and consolidated cancer data from 185 countries to publish The Cancer Atlas, Second Edition. The printed format is packed with a massive amount of data and visualizations but lacked the ability to reach the wider audience of the digital landscape. As the global fight against cancer continues to escalate, the organization needed a new tool to give global leaders easy access to the latest cancer trends and data. ACS partnered with Atlantic Media Strategies to help with these challenges. As the lead designer, I worked with the team to define the product strategy, user experience, and the visual direction of the platform. The result is a data-driven website featuring an interactive map, and ability to compare and download raw data, infographics, and chapters from the book.

Watch a tour of the new cancer atlas site

The Challenge

As the lead designer, I was responsible for translating the spreadsheets of data into an easily navigable website that contextualizes the cancer data: its causes/effects, burden and proven-effective actions to fight against cancer. I was included in key parts of the strategy engagement to help define design problems. Essentially, the biggest UX challenges were driving people to download the raw data, images, and cancer chapters while exploring the global landscape. One of the problems we tried to solve was how to visualize the cancer metrics on a global scale and at the same time, allow people to compare cancer data on a country-by-country basis.

American Cancer Society

My role
Lead product designer at Atlantic Media Strategies

Zach Kalman, UX Architect
Nate Luzod & Russell Vea, Development

Webby Awards, and People’s Choice Awards Finalist in the Health category

Digiday Award Finalist for “Best Use of Multimedia for Storytelling” category

Visit website

The Process

Defining the user experience

I brainstormed with our internal team and client to translate needs, goals and user flows into a series of wireframes to test against our assumptions. Wireframes are also a useful tool to get internal alignment on our intended direction. We aligned to design from a mobile-first approach because our audiences are global, and we know that mobile usage has already surpassed desktop.


Establishing a visual language system

Along with wireframes, I designed a visual language system based on the printed book’s styles. The style guide consists of color systems, typography, and user interface elements that were optimized for web accessibility. I used tools such as Sim Daltonism and to test color contrast and color blindness.









The Results

The final product was well received internally and internationally, and I was truly honored to be a part of this great service.

We received recognition for our work by the Webby Awards in the Health category, as well as a finalist in the People’s Choice Awards. Digiday Award also honored us with an award for “Best Use of Multimedia for Storytelling”.

The ACS team’s dedication to good work and the complexity of their content was a great fit for our collaborative environment. Ultimately, this led to more projects with The American Cancer Society as well as being recommended for other client work. If I could have changed anything about this engagement, I would have liked to spend more time testing the atlas on mobile with a wider age group of audiences, especially with those whose English is their second language.

American Cancer Society press release

“Launched at the 2014 World Cancer Congress in December…The digital interactive promotes cancer prevention and control worldwide by arming those who need it with the most complete information available on the global realities of cancer. It highlights country-by-country strengths and weaknesses worldwide, allowing policymakers, researchers and academics to fully assess differences in risk, burden and prevention, and emphasizes the potential for improvement by closing those gaps.”

Testimonials from our client

“Congrats! It looks amazing. Well done! This is thought leadership at its best.”
– SVP of Corporate Communications

“The Atlas and the website are nothing short of extraordinary. Congratulations and thanks to all!”
– Chief Cancer Control Officer

“The web site is a resounding success! We’ve gotten so much great feedback on it here in Melbourne, particularly from our partners in the developing world who love having this information literally at their fingertips! Both the press conference and session went extremely well.”
– VP, Global Partnerships and Planning, Global Health