Eric Dai
Populus

Populus

An App for the Next Generation of Voters

Timeline

October - November 2020 (4 weeks)

My Role

Individual designer and researcher

At-A-Glance

This is a design sprint where I design a solution to a complex problem. I am interested in how technology can help with the development of society, and one of the most significant factors that drive our policy landscape is the politicians that we have in office. Thus, I hope to improve the voter preparation experience.


Timeline and Process

Design Process

01
BACKGROUND

Problem

“Voting can be inconvenient, confusing, and even stressful.”

During this past mid-term election, my voting experience felt complex and confusing at times. From registering, learning what to bring, finding out who to vote for, to determining where to vote, the information was dispersed and hard to navigate.

I wondered if it was just me who felt this way, but I learned that this is a widespread phenomenon when I stumbled upon eye-opening statistics from the Pew Research Center:

“Young adults are less likely than older people to say voting is convenient and exciting: 50% of adults younger than 30 say voting is convenient.”

Another study found that, out of the 15% of voters who found the process difficult, roughly

“Two in ten mention logistical concerns, ranging from inconvenient timing, to wait times at the polls and uncertainty of how or where to vote or get information.”

Insight
There is a widespread logistical problem to voting. I decide to proceed with the idea of creating an app to address the logistical challenges that comes with voting.

01
OBJECTIVES

User Research
To narrow down on the key objectives I hope to achieve with this project, I first conducted  semi-structured interviews with 4 adult voters that have voted in this midterm election to find out more about their experiences. Then, I identified major themes through affinity mapping.

Affinity Mapping

Key Challenges

There are 6 major areas of improvement for the voter experience.

Key Chellenges

User Persona

I summarized my young voters into two user personas to find how to best prioritize goals.

Persona 1
Persona 2

While the personas share commonalities...

  1. The student persona prioritizes becoming informed about the voting process.
  2. The professional persona prioritizes polling place optimization.

Competitive Analysis

To identify competitive features, I conducted a competitive analysis with products related to our user groups such as Activote and Voterbase surrounding this voter app space.

Competitive Analysis

This competitive analysis showed me that I should also pay attention to improving upon existing solutions for the candidate information flow.


Design Requirements

I summarized my findings with a problem statement for our user groups:

“Young voters need a one-stop place to obtain all voting information, from candidate summary to location and scheduling.”

With the baseline user research and competitive analysis findings, I decided to proceed to ideation with three core focuses on design requirements.

  1. Help voters view and save candidate information
  2. Help voters find the closest and least crowded voting centers
  3. Help voters get reminders on key voting dates and steps

02
IDEATION

Current User Journey

I began by examining the current user journey, to identify areas that can be improved.

❌ Existing Polling Place Flow

To find the polling places, users need to either Google their state website or county website to find a polling place finder. Afterwards, they may still need to dig through the web to find wait times for the polling places.

Current Flow 1

✅ New Polling Place Flow

New Flow 1

Features

  1. Apply direct search, distance filter, and time filter
  2. Save and share favorite polling places

Refinement

  1. Display the most important information such as open hours
  2. Intuitive UI and less clicks

❌ Existing Candidate Info Flow

To find the candidate information, users need to either google them individually, or find them in the form of PDF and word documents from specific political party websites such as NC Democrats. Or, the users can use apps such as Activote or Voterbase.

Current Flow 2
Current Flow 3

✅ New Candidate Info Flow

New Flow 2

Features

  1. Apply direct search
  2. Display the most important information such as policy summaries

Refinement

  1. Save and share favorite candidates
  2. Intuitive UI and less clicks

Information Architecture

With the design requirements in mind, I connected the flows to create a all-in-one experience.

Information Architecture

03
SOLUTIONS

Polling Place Flow

I first began with the features search and filters and also favoriting and sharing by sketching out their potential locations in my P&P wireframes.

Polling Place P&P

I iterated on the best ways to refine the user experience through intuitive interactions and clean visual design.

Testing

For the usability tests, my participants need to conduct 2 tasks.

  • Task: Applying filters to find polling places

  • Task: Finding address of a specific polling place

Base on my findings, I made several major changes to my design:

Finding 1: More Flexibility!

Users prefer the flow to be as short and flexible as possible, many want to just favorite an option without tapping into the location's page. I improved the layout of the listings to have better spacing so users can clearly see the location photos as well as favorite the location without tapping into the options.

Improvement 1

Finding 2: More Engaging!

Users expressed the need for more visualizations of the geographical distribution of their options so they can go to somewhere that is close to where they are planning to go later in the day. I added a map view of the polling locations for people who are more visual and would like to see locations relative to each other.

Improvement 3

Finding 3: Show What Is Most Important!

Users hoped that the interface is simple but also be able to see details, they can still access the information. So, I prioritize the most important information - distance, wait time, and hours - first, and then added options to account for the edge case of wanting to see more details on the polling place page.

Improvement 2

High Fidelity Prototype

Poll Place Final 1
Poll Place Final 2
Poll Place Final 3

Candidate Info Flow

Testing

For the usability tests, my participants need to conduct 1 task.

  • Task: Finding the summary description of a specific candidate

General Info and Notifications Flow

Testing

For the usability tests, my participants need to conduct 2 tasks.

  • Task: Turn on or turn off specific notification settings

  • Task: Review voting checklist and favorited items


04
IMPACT

CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Check back later or reach out at ericdai@sas.upenn.edu


05
REFLECTION

In the Future

One of the most beautiful things about being a designer is that you can be idealistic and design a solution that is solely focused on the user experience. Now that a prototype of the experience is created. I hope to build d on this idea in the future. I also acknowledge that there are certain hurdles to overcome to create Populus App.

  • Technical obstacles : There are technical backend challenges to pulling and calculating data about voting centers, voting results, and wait time.

  • Partnership obstacles : The success of an app like this would definitely depend on local promotion and partnership with local government, non-profits, and voting centers.

  • Political obstacles : The implications of this app would mean that there could be more involvement of the young voter population, thus there may be political groups out there who do not benefit from young voters that will not support the promotion of this app.

Nonetheless, creating an enjoyable voting experience is highly beneficial and impactful to our future as a country. I hope that this project can inspire other people to think about how we can use design to shape the development of our society.


# Thank You For Reading!