The Invisible World of Domestic Work


10 weeks, Jan.—March 2018

Karen Cheng

Used as a resource for the City of Seattle's current issues webpage.

Given the current political climate on immigration, I wanted to focus on telling the story of people who come to the U.S. to work as domestic workers. While common in other countries and cultures, these workers are often hidden in private homes and thus unrecognized socially and politically.


Final Design Solution

(This website prototype is currently unavailable as the software I used (Atomic) shut down. Please stay tuned for updates as I’m try to code this website myself!)

I chose to synthesize the data I collected into an infographic website that features stories, political campaigns, and resources.

The home page opens with an animated gif that illustrates different elements of domestic work: laundry, childcare, and window cleaning.

The home page opens with an animated gif that illustrates different elements of domestic work: laundry, childcare, and window cleaning.

The Stories page features profiles of women who have been interviewed by organizations such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The Background page places the issue of domestic work in a national and global context, with data visualizations exploring the relationship between immigration and domestic workers.

Full Design (view full image in a new tab)










Weeks 1-4: Research, narrowing content, creating initial figure concepts, and deciding on audience, distribution, and purpose.

Week 5: Expert interview — I contacted Sidney Chun, the campaign manager for the Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance, leading the domestic workers' bill of rights.

Week 6-10: Refinement — Fixing typography details, sources, testing different website prototyping tools, and adding narrative details.


Initial data visualization explorations.

Vehicle development and making decisions on format, should it be a website or pamphlet?


Visual Explorations

Wanting to surface and humanize domestic workers, I considered two visual approaches to the content: photographic and illustrative.



Finding accurate data for domestic workers, who are often survivors of human trafficking, was difficult. There are no hard numbers about how many are employed annually, where each of them come from, and how long they stay. To balance this, I complemented the minimal data about workers' conditions with visa information that is easily available from the U.S. Department of State. 

I wanted this infographic to have a narrative tone that would not trivialize this subject, and would humanize these workers in a way that is respectful, optimistic, and just. As a result, I opted for concise language paired with quotes from interviews and research papers. 

Combining statistics in a persuasive way was a new task for me, so I aimed to get a lot of feedback and critique from my peers about what seemed out of place or needed a better transition. Similar to writing an essay, much of the development at the end of the project involved moving pieces around or rewording key takeaways.