Every sex study that comes out seems to fall into two camps. One is stuffed with cheesy, "relatable" graphics that end up talking down to young adults. The other packs too much irrelevant information into a dry, overly serious format. Either way, you walk away, well, unsatisfied. The new Sexperience 1000, a survey of 1,000 sexually active Brits, avoids all the cliches, with timely content packaged in a vibrant interactive experience that invites plenty of exploration. Ahem.
The interactive site is part of the Sexperience project mounted by Channel 4, the U.K.'s public service television station and designed by Mint Digital. Sexperience hopes to highlight true stories about everything from masturbation to contraception to help people understand what's right for them. While the Sexperience site includes content like message boards and videos (which can't be seen in the U.S.), the Sexperience 1000 is, in a way, the most helpful piece of information because it allows a user to slice and dice the experiences of the respondents and learn that there's no such thing as normal.
The brilliance in the Sexperience 1000 interface is that instead of transforming the data into impersonal blocks of data, each person who answered the questions is turned into an anthropomorphized symbol that appears to almost walk into formation around their answers. "Data, by definition, is impersonal," Mint Digital creative director Utku Can tells Co.Design. "Sex is the exact opposite. Representing every person as a character shows that they're not just data points, they're humans."
To the top is a menu that organizes the answers to questions ranging from "How many different sexual partners have you had?" to "Have you ever cheated on a partner?"
To the right hand side is a menu that allows users to filter the results by sex, age, education, even the kind of car they drive.
A click of the menu highlights the filtered results; here the men get colored blue while the rest are rendered gray.
But here's one of the coolest features. If you click on a single character, you can see all their answers.
And after you select a particular "person," you can also choose to follow them throughout the data sets. These ones I've selected turn into the yellow characters in some of the graphs.
This feature is especially useful for people who may want to know how their own behavior tracks. I can imagine someone trying to find someone with a similar age and experience to compare themselves to across the questions. Or maybe learn that doggy style isn't as rare as one would think.
But even for those of us not worried about how many people our age are doing it, the Sexperience 1000 is fascinating fun. Like discovering the fact that classical music fans aren't so interested in role playing.
People who shop at the grocery chain Waitrose may or may not be cheating on their partners.
Single women are very conscious about their body image.
And, of course, the majority of people who masturbate once a day (or more) are male.