Votential (Ver. 2)

Making the voter experience easier one step at a time - redesigned
view MY submission

Ready to Vote?

Project Overview

Over the course of several weeks, I worked on redesigning a previous project for an assignment in my UI/UX class regarding equity issues. I chose to refocus my attention to Votiential (which was a project that I worked on with a team a few months prior) for this project in order to fill in many of the gaps that I was unable to accomplish when I initially tackled it.

As I approached the redesign with a more formal foundation of UX knowledge, I was able to identify key areas of improvement for the project to further improve the voter experience.

Time duration
Fall 2020 (3-4 weeks)
Roles
User Research, Design, Prototyping
Tools
Figma

The Problem

Our Problem Statement

Because of the way that propositions are explained on ballots, it can often be written to be misleading, which causes a lot of confusion for first-time voters. With so many important propositions on the ballots, it is important to make the most informed vote possible, which can be difficult if users do not know where to start on their research.

While many voter resources are out there, many of them are biased, which can skew someone’s unformed opinion. With so much information on the ballot, such as propositions and candidates, young and first-time voters often have a hard time deciding what and who to vote for without proper education beforehand.

Through some exploration, I came up with some How Might We questions to aid in the research process:

Voting Activism:

  • How might we match voters with candidates who align with their beliefs?
  • How might we make voting less intimidating for new voters?
  • How might we encourage people to be politically active beyond voting?
  • How might we provide voters with neutral and evidence-based information about the candidates?

Easing the voting process:

  • How might we ensure that voters are well informed and vote on time?
  • How might we encourage/increase young voter turnouts?
  • How might we ease the process of voting, whether by mail-in or voting polls, for voters?

Voter education:

  • How might we make information more digestible and understandable for voters?
  • How might we educate voters on candidates and propositions to help voters feel informed and confident on their decision?
  • How might we encourage voter turnout by making the booklet of propositions less intimidating?

From there, I created a problem statement that would frame my design decisions: 

Problem statement

“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, I 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.

The Voters

Users and Audience

When designing Votential, I had young voters and first-time voters, especially in mind. The idea behind the Votential was to be able to create a platform that young and new voters alike could turn to, as voting information is often dense and difficult to understand.

Understanding Our Audience

In order to understand the audience, I interviewed 3 users. Through these interviews, I was able to pull out several pain points that concerned the difficulties that they faced voting during the most recent election. I found that users felt like information about the propositions were often skewed a certain way, or written in a way that is misleading. All of the users expressed that they had to do some extensive research in order to be knowledgeable about the propositions, and some had even expressed that they only voted for the president because they were unable to find reputable information about the other candidates that were up for vote.

User quote

“Researching each of the propositions was annoying. I didn’t know if the information I found about the propositions were correct or if I’m voting the way that I wanted to vote. There’s a lot of bias out there and misleading information. It made it seem like taking a standardized test rather than voting.”
- Vivian Chung

User quote

“There’s so much information about candidates that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what’s actually reputable, which makes it hard for me to make a decision. If I had reliable information about the candidates in my local county, it would encourage me to vote for them, as opposed to just voting for a presidential candidate.”
- Matt Lin

The Process

Ideation

As some of the ideation for this problem statement was already explored in the first iteration of Votential, I went back to those ideas to see how they could be applied in this new context. I took inspiration from sketches that my teammates and I compiled when I worked on this project a few months earlier, I pulled some key features that I thought could still be useful with the new information that I’ve acquired through user interviews. 

Compilation of some of our sketches

Some of our notable features that I saw that could be reused 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. By mapping it out in an information architecture diagram, I was able to see the bigger picture of what the platform would essentially set out to accomplish. 

Ballot Sent

Low and Mid-Fidelity

In order to approach the pain points that were revealed in the interviews, several features were implemented to help users feel more knowledgeable about the candidates and propositions. 

Candidate learning

  • The first task is more straightforward, which involves the user being able to access neutral, unbiased information about all the candidates up to vote in the election (based on their location). 
  • All of the information on each candidate would be consolidated into one place to make it easy for voters to refer back to whenever needed.
Flow for reading about a candidate

Proposition quizzes

  • The second task regards a quiz feature that will help to evaluate the user’s beliefs on how they would feel about a certain proposition. The quiz is short and asks neutral and unbiased questions in order to analyze how the user may feel about the proposition.
  • Based on the quiz answers, the platform will give a suggestion on how the user should vote.
  • At the end of the quiz, it would also tell the user what it would mean if they vote “yes” or “no” on a certain proposition.
Flow for answering a quiz question

Candidate Matches

  • This quiz information will also be used to match up the users to other candidates who also align with their beliefs, and saves it onto the user profile so that they would be able keep track of potential candidates to vote for.
Flow for navigating to a candidate match

Ballot Delayed

User Testing

Besides the lack of user interviews in my last project, another big thing that my previous project was missing was feedback from usability testing. After finishing the project, my team and I did not know whether or not the design solutions that we came up with would be helpful or not. After conducting two rounds of testing with around 5 different users, I was able to pull out some key findings that aided in the reiterations of some of the designs:

1. There was some confusion with some of the language being used

  • “How will you vote” was unclear - users thought that this was supposed to mean how they were voting in terms of going in-person or mailing a ballot
  • Navigation icons were also confusing, users did not quickly understand what the icons were supposed to represent

Solution: Changing “How will you vote” to “How will you vote on this proposition?” and including titles for navigation icons

2. The graphic on the sign-in page was distracting

  • Eagle was not very clear at first - it took a while for users to recognize that the character was an eagle because of the awkward use of negative space

Solution: Changed the eagle mascot entirely

Calendar feature was confusing

  • Many users felt confused about this calendar
  • They did not really know how they would use it or if it’s really necessary
  • Some users described it to be overwhelming and distracting from everything else on the homepage

Solution: Removed the calendar feature and included a feature to add reminders instead

Ballot Received

Design System

After user testing, came finalizing the designs. Throughout this process of finalizing all of the designs, I also created a design system in which my designs followed in order to create a consistent branding identity.

I took a clean and minimal approach, using the patriotic colors of red, white, and blue, but with a more modern approach. Both the red and blue served as the main accent color, with the off-white often anchoring the designs.

Hi-Fidelity and Final Designs

Walkthrough of onboarding

After receiving user testing feedback, I implemented changes in the design that will make the voter experience even more easier. Some of the other feedback included:

  • The phrase “Candidates Matches” confused some users → didn’t really know what it meant
  • Users mentioned they would be interested in seeing how other people feel about each proposition
  • Viewing proposition quiz results in numerical order would be more helpful

I also took all of these thoughts into consideration and implemented them in my iterations. 

Walkthrough of the proposition quiz
Walkthrough reading about a candidate

Election Day: The End

Outcomes and Lessons

Through this project, I was able to explore user testing in a way that I haven’t before. Like many other projects, there was also a time constraint that limited the amount of user research and user testing that was done. However, even with the limited testing that I was able to do, I learned a lot about the process and how valuable it is to the entire design process.

Designing is all about iteration, and throughout the entire design process for this assignment, I felt that the designs have evolved through each interview and test. 

Planning for the Next Election

After the changes that I made, there was a lot of improvement from where I initially started with the project a few months prior to where it is today. Even with all of those changes, I still feel like there is still room for improvement. If I had more time, I would definitely test once again to see if the revised designs were helpful, as well as spend more time refining some of the components within the designs.

Even though this project was an extension of a project that I completed prior, I am glad that I was able to take this project and further improve upon it. After taking a look at it a few months later, I realized that there was a lot of room for improvement, and it was really interesting to see how it evolved when user interviews and user testing was introduced. It was always a goal of mine to revisit the original Votential project, so I am glad that I was able to do so with this assignment after acquiring a more formal UX education.