Napier Kentish
Senior Experience Designer & Consultant

Enhancing the Voter Experience

Fulton County Votes App - MySample Ballot Functionality

Image alt tag

PEOPLE ARE UNAWARE OF THE POWER THAT SITS WITHIN THEIR LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD. 

In 2020, after a year of civil unrest during a global pandemic, Americans came together to unseat Former President Donald Trump. 

Across the country, community organizers canvassed, and door knocked to get registered voters to the polls in a historical election that decides the fate of our country for the years to come.

Beyond the election at the federal level, there were state and city elected positions at stake that provide vital services to their constituents. 

The constituent services provided by each office and state varies in level of support, but citizens are unaware of how to effectively mobilize their community in order to get the assistance they need from their local government.

Problem Statement

How do we help voters understand how to navigate civic engagement in order to keep local elected officials accountable?

Research Questions

  1. How do voters define civic engagement? 

  2. How do voters participate in civic engagement? 

  3. How do voters decide who to vote for? 

  4. Are voters aware of the responsibilities of local officials?

The Approach

Here is a quick glance into my schedule where I was able to layout the tasks I needed to complete over the course of 8 weeks. 

Here is a quick glance into my schedule where I was able to layout the tasks I needed to complete over the course of 8 weeks. 

Enhancing the Voter Experience

Desk Research

Entering my 1st phase of the engagement, I navigated many sites, spoke with a community organizer and looked at recent news to synthesize key findings. I ordered the findings in a flow to demonstrate my mental model of the desk research.

Key Finding 1

Current applications segment the civic engagement experience at the federal level leaving anopportunity to close the information gap at the local-level. 

Key Finding 2

The research must focus on a geographical location to effectively map the voter experience of a community member. 

Key Finding 3

Utilize Fulton County since it has a good foundation enabling their residents with important information and received the Best in the Nation award for civic engagement from the National Association of Counties (NACO) in 2017. 

Key Finding 4

Civic engagement is a broad topic; Identify what can be improved in the voting space to combat the Georgia Governor’s voting restrictions. 

Key Finding 5

There isn’t a consolidated location for residents to learn about roles and candidates on the State or County sites.

Key Finding 6

To access information about candidates, the state-operated “My Voter Page” provides links to each district associated to the voter but doesn’t streamline the educational effort for those who are relatively new to voting or the local area. 

Key Finding 7

The Fulton County Votes App provides icons that link to iframes of a mobile friendly webpage of the Fulton County voting site or a desktop webpage for state sites.

With this base of knowledge I pivoted my problem statement to be focused on Fulton County.

Redefined Problem Statement

How do we help voters cast a well-informed vote in Fulton County, Atlanta, Georgia?

User Research

Survey Results

To understand the recent voting habits of voters within Fulton County and across the UnitedStates, two surveys were created. The survey also served as a screener for interviews to gain a deeper understanding of their voting experience. 

  • 35 total responses for the Fulton County Civic Engagement Questionnaire

  • 25 total responses for the U.S.-Wide Civic Engagement Questionnaire

83% of Fulton County Participants

know where to find their local voting information

88.6% of Fulton County Participants

know where to find political candidate information

45.8% of Fulton County Participants

mostly understand how local government works

64% of U.S.-Wide Participants

have used a sample ballot before

60% of U.S.-Wide Participants

used a government website during the 2020 election cycle

Takeaway

Fulton County residents are knowledgeable of the voting process and US-Wide participants leverage existing government resources during an election cycle. 

Qualitative results from the survey

Synthesizing the written responses from both surveys, below are the most popular destinations for participants to find out who to vote for. (Order Highest to Lowest)

  • Google

  • Digital News

  • Social Media

  • Candidate Websites

  • Family & Friends 

  • Ballotpedia 

Participants currently: 

  • Google their local candidates and research prior to voting

  • Look at a variety of sources to compare opinions

Participants desire:  

  • Glanceable language that informs them of the candidates and their platforms

  • Efficiency in navigating government websites

Interviews

Learning more about their voting experience, 8 recent voters were interviewed for 30 minutes each to identify their current pain points and opportunities to improve the voting experience in Fulton County.  

  • 4 total Fulton County Residents interviewed

  • 4 total U.S.-Wide Voters interviewed

Interview notes were synthesized in Mural, a white boarding application.

Key Finding 1

Participants don’t follow the progress of local elections due to a lack of knowledge or centralized location to find information.

Key Finding 2

Participants conduct their candidate research up to two weeks prior to the election. 

Key Finding 3

Participants use government sites to stay inform about the voting process and learn more about the candidates.

Key Finding 4

To make voting easier, participants suggest having a centralized location for all the candidate information. Also having language presented in laymen’s terms would help reduce confusion.

Key Finding 5

Participants would like to see candidates' photos, political party, and stance on issues to identify the right candidate. Some participants find themselves guessing for local candidates when voting during a presidential election cycle. 

Takeaway

Participants utilize government websites to find candidate and voting information, but lack a centralized source of truth to easily conduct research.

Personas

To ground myself in who the end-user of the solution will be, I created a persona who has the goal to identify likeminded candidates, but unfortunately has to deal with tedious site navigation to find candidate information.

Current State Journey Map

To understand Dante's current experience with voting, I mapped out the stages he would go through. Along the journey opportunities were identified to improve his experience. The section highlighted is the prioritized segment of the journey to solve for.

The act of conducting research and saving choices were high emotional points for Dante. This is the area the prototype should focus on solving for.

The act of conducting research and saving choices were high emotional points for Dante. This is the area the prototype should focus on solving for.

Design

Storyboard

Bringing forth the opportunities prioritized on the current state journey map, I created a storyboard to ideate on the future experience Dante can have.

Paper sketching led to user flow creation

To begin crafting the experience and details, I sketched some initial screens to begin ideating what details need to be present for the user.

The prompt in mind was to design a better way to navigate the mobile sample ballot and receive more details so voters can cast a well-informed ballot.

Final iteration of sketching

Final iteration of sketching

Paper sketching lead to requirements gathering

After an initial round of rough sketching, I began to ideate in mural to plan out the requirements of key features in the sample ballot functionality. The features were pulled from the interview and survey notes.

Enhancing the Voter Experience

CONTINUED SKETCHING TO CREATE USER FLOWS

After identifying the initial requirements to create the future state experience of the sample ballot, I continued to sketch to validate the user flow with an end-user. 

Overall he enjoyed the flow and recommended having the position information as a tooltip rather than taking up space on the candidate details page.

Enhancing the Voter Experience

To design efficiently, guardrails were created

On a real-client engagement, UX is limited by the constraints of people, business and technology. To ground myself in a real scenario, I developed guardrails to make the design process efficient.

Guardrail #1

Leverage existing data sources for information hierarchy

Guardrail #2

Assume blank paper ballots and pens are available at polling locations since phones aren’t allowed

Guardrail #3

Assume this is the MVP release of improving the voter experience

Guardrail #4

Leverage the design system utilized by the Fulton County Votes App for font style and colors

Guardrail #5

Utilize the Adobe XD Spectrum Design system for UI components 

Guardrail #6

Utilize the iOS design system for operating system elements

SHOWCASING MYSAMPLE BALLOT

With all the information gathered, I created a high-fidelity prototype in Adobe XD. Here is a live-clickable prototype. Click Sample Ballots to begin the user flow.==>

USABILITY TESTING

Following the creation of the hi-fidelity prototype, I tested the prototype with 3 end-users, to identify what works well and what doesn’t work, I prompted the participants with 3 tasks to fulfill: 

  1. View a generic sample ballot

  2. Add Jon Ossoff to your sample ballot

  3. Learn what are David Perdue’s key messages

What works well: 

  • Clean design 

  • Messaging was informative

What doesn’t work:

  • Users expected a home button to navigate through the experience more efficiently than a back button

  • To prevent confusion “MySample Ballot” should only be present after a candidate is added through “Create MySample Ballot”

  • Having the election title persist throughout all the features is potentially confusing

Next Steps

The future of voting in Fulton County

  1. I recommend connecting with Fulton County to help kickoff a service design engagement to continue research on the overall app experience. With the home button being of interest to end-users, it would require a new approach to the app's architecture.

  2. The app needs to be leveraged by canvassers and voter registration drives within the community to onboard newly registered residents into the voting segment of civic engagement.

  3. Additionally, the current design is for mobile. A mobile-first design needs to be created for a responsive desktop experience. 

  4. Lastly, research should be continued on creating a bipartisan tool at polling locations to educate voters who do not have internet access on positions, candidates and ballot measures.

What have you learned from this project?

  1. I learned planning a project well up front helps with task management and staying on track.

  2. I learned that finalizing UX artifacts as you go saves time at the end of a sprintthat requires a presentation deck. 

  3. I learned at work that many times, UX design will not champion a project, so balancing the limitations brought by business and technology is vital to the success of an engagement.

  4. I learned that creating an ideal user experience of service requires research with not only the intended end-user but anyone else who engages their journey. 

Special Thanks

Ashanti Martinez - Community Organizer and Legislation Analyst in Maryland

4
Iterations
30
Screens