Food inflation Iran: Compare the cost of your shopping basket over a decade

Country/area: United Kingdom

Organisation: BBC World Service, Persian service

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 08/03/2021

Credit: Ali Ghadimi, Alice Grenie, Chloe Skillman, Alex Nicholas, Assiz Pereria, Eleanor Keane, Adam Allen, Sally Morales, Johannes Dell


Ali Ghadimi, lead journalist, BBC Persian

Alice Grenie, UX designer BBC Near East Visual Journalism team.

Chloe Skillman, Alex Nicholas, Assiz Pereira, Eleanor Keane, Developers, BBC Visual Journalism

Adam Allen, tester, BBC Visual Journalism

Sally Morales, project manager BBC Visual Journalism

Johannes Dell, editori  BBC Near East Visual Journalism team

Project description:

Against the backdrop of continuous and dramatic food price rises in Iran, this project gives users an easy and intuitive way to explore inflation and the cost of important staple foods over the last ten years. The user can drop a range of items into a shopping basket, create a bill/receipt for the total of their shop and then compare this with the cost of the same basket of items over a range of ten years. The selection of the year by year data is done through a dropdown menu. 

Impact reached:

With 55,700 page views, this project performed way above average for the Persian website, a reach figure normally achieved only by the LIVE page.  Engagement data was also very satisfying at an average of 1:08.  The impact is maybe not surpirising given that we tackled a literal ‘bread and butter’ issue of great concern to our audience.  The interactive nature of the UX design also drew people in by combining everyday realities with an element of nostalgia.  BBC Persian timed publication to coincide with the run up to Nowruz,. the Persian New Year, which is always a key shopping time with food playing a major role in celebration and reflection.  Another strength of this product is its re-usability:  We entered new data in November last year as inflation hit another spike, allowing us to republish and get the most out of a truly everygreen product.  

Techniques/technologies used:

HTML, CSS & Sass, JS for coding work

Adobe Creative Suite for Design tasks

R and other data tools for scraping data from websites

What was the hardest part of this project?

Acquiring reliable data in Iran is in itself a challenge, so getting a complete set for basic food stuff prices over a range of ten years was quite an achievement.

Visual journalism teams at BBC World Service a structured as small subunits working with specific language teams organised in regions to allow for local knowledge to be accrued and applied.  During this project we had no team developer, so while this meant a number of colleagues were pulled in from other parts of the organisation, it was also an opportunity for talent from our graduates scheme to join us and learn on the project.  What might have been a challenge turned into an opportunity as fresh ideas and broader collaboration benefitted the whole team.  (also an issue)



What can others learn from this project?

Using a simple, but effective and intuitive UX idea and marrying it with a universal, audienc oriented story can be a great base for an easily re-usable (evergreen) product. 

Local knowledge is vital to make a project work for a specific audience.  Having a producer who knows the market, the audience and the limitations of available data was crucial. It allowed us to select the right foodstuffs that were relevant to an average household while also scrutinising the available data and advising on a suitable visual style.  Having local knowledge in the design team is also hugely beneficial when it comes to producing work for a Right to Left language environment.

Project links: