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
Fulton County Votes App - MySample Ballot Functionality
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.
How do we help voters understand how to navigate civic engagement in order to keep local elected officials accountable?
How do voters define civic engagement?
How do voters participate in civic engagement?
How do voters decide who to vote for?
Are voters aware of the responsibilities of local officials?
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?
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
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)
Family & Friends
Google their local candidates and research prior to voting
Look at a variety of sources to compare opinions
Glanceable language that informs them of the candidates and their platforms
Efficiency in navigating government websites
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.
Participants utilize government websites to find candidate and voting information, but lack a centralized source of truth to easily conduct research.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leverage existing data sources for information hierarchy
Assume blank paper ballots and pens are available at polling locations since phones aren’t allowed
Assume this is the MVP release of improving the voter experience
Leverage the design system utilized by the Fulton County Votes App for font style and colors
Utilize the Adobe XD Spectrum Design system for UI components
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.==>
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:
View a generic sample ballot
Add Jon Ossoff to your sample ballot
Learn what are David Perdue’s key messages
What works well:
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
The future of voting in Fulton County
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.
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.
Additionally, the current design is for mobile. A mobile-first design needs to be created for a responsive desktop experience.
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?
I learned planning a project well up front helps with task management and staying on track.
I learned that finalizing UX artifacts as you go saves time at the end of a sprintthat requires a presentation deck.
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.
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.
Ashanti Martinez - Community Organizer and Legislation Analyst in Maryland