Just Designathon was the first ever Designathon that I participated in. I worked with 3 other teammates, all of whom I did not know prior, to design around a social issue of our choice within 48 hours.
My team and I decided to tackle the issue of the low turnout rate for young voters and designed Votential, an app that would make the voting experience easier on step at a time.
As none of my teammates and I have ever participated in an event like this, we are very proud to have taken home the prize of Most User Centric Design and honorable mention for Most Impactful Design at the Just Design Designathon.
Due to the time constraint that we were in, we were only able to gather limited information in order to help us frame the problem at hand. Instead, we asked ourselves a series of How Might We questions in order to hone in on a problem that we wanted to solve. We asked questions such as:
From there, we cultivated our problem statement that would frame our design decisions:
“Young voters in the US have a low turnout rate because voting information is often dense and difficult to digest, leaving many young people without a clear idea of how certain political agendas may affect their lives."
Thus, we worked towards creating a platform that would help voters be more informed about their vote by giving users the resources to learn about different political candidates and propositions.
When designing Votential, we had young voters (such as ourselves), especially in mind. We wanted to create a platform that young and new voters alike could turn to, as voting information is often dense and difficult to understand.
From the small amount of research that we gathered, we were able to pull out a few pain points from young voters and those who will be voting for the first time in the upcoming election. Those who we quickly interviewed explained that it was difficult to understand propositions and apply them to real life settings, and had trouble deciding what decision would be best in the long term. There seemed to be a common theme of wanting to understand, but lacking the proper resources to learn.
“If I am unable to understand the bills, then I would feel discouraged to vote. I don’t really understand politics enough to make an informed vote.”
When approaching this phase of the design process, each of us ended Day 1 by taking the time to ourselves to sketch and return the next day to compare our ideas.
From all of our sketches, we pulled ideas that we liked from each other’s sketches and started to form a rough information architecture diagram to map out the features. Some of our notable features included a calendar to keep track of important due dates and events and a quiz to help voters assess their beliefs to see their positions on propositions and candidates.
The next day, we reconvened to come up with our visual design patterns and colors. We opted to go for a twist on the traditional patriotic colors of red, white, and blue. We chose a strong blue for our primary color, with a hot pink and yellow as the accent colors.
After we decided on our colors and design elements, we moved right away to the hi-fidelity prototyping as the project was due the next day. We each divided the screens among us, hopped on Zoom, and started to design.
We implemented several features onto the Votential platform, such as:
Voting Help page
After a long night of finishing up the designs and prototyping all the screens, we were almost at the finish line. We met up a few hours before the deadline to tie up any loose ends for the design, and made sure all the screens were linked properly and transitioned smoothly. We finalized everything for our final decision, created some mockups of our screens, and were ready for submission.
Being that we did not really have enough time to do much user research or usability testing, those would be the two biggest areas in which we would work on to further develop this project. Although we proposed some solutions to our proposed problem to ease the voting experience, we are unable to know for sure whether or not the solutions would be effective for young and new voters.
Prototyping each screen and making the animations for each transition was something that we did at the end, as a sort of “cherry on top” to the project. All of us had minimal experience working with smart animations on Figma, so our transitions were not as robust as we ideally would want it, due to our limited knowledge of using the prototyping tool. Creating more seamless transitions also be something that we would like to work on, to not only improve the project, but to also improve our prototyping skills.
Not only was this the first designathon that my team and I participated in, but we were also all strangers prior to the event. What started out as messaging people in the designathon’s Slack channel, turned out to be the creation of a team that was able to create Votential in only 48 hours.
We were met with the obvious constraints, such as the short time we had and remote work due to Covid-19. But in the end, we were able to create a product that we were proud of, and not only that, but we took home the prize of Most User Centric Design.
Although this was a short project made for a Designathon, my team and I see a lot of potential in Votential, and hope to set time aside in the future to address the improvements and develop the platform even further.