Behind Tiso Blackstar Group's 2019 election website: the news in real time

15 May 2019 - 07:57 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Residents of Siqalo informal settlement queue to vote in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.
Residents of Siqalo informal settlement queue to vote in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.
Image: Esa Alexander

As SA took to the polls this month to elect a new government, the TimesLIVE 2019 election website brought the results to life in real time with interactive maps and displays, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers during election week.

The website incorporated additional features and functionality to those that were available during the 2016 local elections and provided South Africans with voting information before and throughout the polls.

According to Tiso Blackstar Group's head of product, Percy Goetsch, the enhanced website built on the technology used in 2016.

TimesLIVE’s 2016 election website was named the best data visualisation project at WAN-Ifra’s 2016 Digital Media Africa Awards and generated record site-traffic numbers for the TimesLIVE and BusinessLIVE websites. 

This year, the elections website again led TimesLIVE to a new daily record for visitors to SA's second-biggest news website.

The website not only delivered accurate election results and statistics, but also illustrated the results in a meaningful way to help the electorate understand how their votes contributed to the overall makeup of each province’s legislature and, ultimately, the National Assembly.

From an editorial perspective, the data-driven application complemented the content generated by Tiso Blackstar Group journalists covering the elections across multiple platforms.

The website, developed in partnership with software developer EightySix° and data and analytics consultancy Outshine, also allowed South Africans to double-check their voter registration and revisit their town's voting history by bringing the results of 2016, 2014, 2011 and 2009 elections to life, using information sourced from the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

“The IEC has been very forthcoming with support and assistance, which has significantly benefited the quality of the information the site is able to provide to citizens,” said Goetsch.

The interactive map allowed users to zoom in on a province, municipality, ward or voting district, with each view delivering an information panel with the past voting results for the selected election year.