Case Study
The Reformer

The Reformer is an interactive tool that allows the public to simulate the impact of various policy options on the long term sustainability of the US Social Security system. The custom tool, which is based on a complex Excel model, offers an AJAX-based experience that gives users instantaneous feedback through interactive data visualizations and charts.


Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Washington DC

Nonprofit Organization | Think Tank

Audience & Topics

General Audience, Voters, Policy Analysts, Journalists and the Media

Government | Public Policy | Reform | Politics


June 2013

Roles, Deliverables and Methods

Front End Designer (UI/UX)

Layout, Typography, Styling

Lead Developer

Final Developed Website


Functional Enhancements and Maintenance

Project Accolades


Speedy Interactions

The tool provides almost instantaneous updates to the data visualizations and charts via AJAX and some smart server-side data caching techniques. A variety of user interaction features were developed including custom form validations, dynamic plain language logic, and social media helpers via JavaScript, jQuery, and PHP.

Socially Charged

Dynamically generated tweets, facebook posts, and email options — that integrate the user's specific choices — help promote the Reformer. The new tool was picked up by the Washington Post on the first day of its launch and in less than 24 hours was the subject of hundreds of comments, tweets and facebook postings.

Charting Social Security's Future

The tool uses Google's Visualization and Chart's API to show users how their policy choices might play out over time. Limitations of the API, including legend options, were solved by using some simple CSS substitutes.