Local election turnout is getting worse each year. Right now, local voter turnout stands at roughly 20%. So how do we convince people to vote when they feel disconnected from their local politics, have a decreased view of transparency of government, and have to navigate many complicated websites just to find the information they seek?
At Politician Report, we aggregated data from various sources to create a one-stop platform dedicated to learning all you need to know about politicians and upcoming props and measures. We also provided voting information, including where/when to vote, politician/proposition information in one place, connected voters with their politicians, and added the ability to save your choices to your online ballot.
I led the design of Politician Report’s MVP, UX and branding between July 2020 until its launch in October 2020 including the designs for the home screen, search, politician page, review flow, and city and state pages.
In addition, I worked alongside the founder, backend developer, and full-stack developer on all features as well as developed parts of the HTML/SCSS on the Ruby on Rails server.
The website officially launched in October 2020, where they will now pursue non-profit status.
I conducted general research on demographics, politics, and voting online, viewing sites such as Pew Research. I wanted more authentic data as well. That data would come from conducting a week of user interviews where I learned that most voters felt lost when it came to voting. 80% of my users interviewed didn’t know much if anything about their local politicians and the majority didn’t vote at all in their local elections.
User’s generally felt lost when it came to voting in their local elections
This information was concerning. How could I get them to vote? Most did not have time, felt it was just too complicated to find the information needed, or didn’t even realize that an election was coming up. I knew this project needed one theme. Simplicity. I had to make politics feel easy to the user.
Standing in line would take too long.
Not Enough Information
Feel like they don’t know enough to vote.
People Like Me
Feel politicians don’t know enough about them. They are out of touch with “People Like Me”.
Millennials & Gen X
Most are aged 25-45
Most are tech-savvy and well connected. Focused on broader societal needs.
The Politician Page
This project was fast-paced. We started with the politician page that would include a biography, political spectrum, policy information, voting history, and basic background information. I knew I needed to keep this page as simple as possible. I did some general wireframes and iterated three times from there trying to simplify and separate sections as I iterated. During iterations, we played with different rating styles from percentages, to letter grades and finally to a simple star rating that everyone could understand.
I gradually edited down the page to it’s simplest form. The user of cards came in handy to break up hard to read content and make it easily scannable.
Where Search Happens
The homepage had one goal: to lead the user to their local politicians and keep them searching. The search became the focal point with sections that furthered research below such as top-rated reviews, politicians in your area, and trending policies.
List it Out
The search list had to be kept simple so that the user could scan it quickly and find what they need. I opted for a clean simple grid with photos and a spectrum to see where a politician may sit on the political spectrum with a simple filter at the bottom on mobile and on the side for desktop.
Extensive User Testing
To evaluate our first sprint, I conducted two rounds of user testing. Since this project was fast-paced, I expected plenty of failures within the UI/UX. With a limited budget, I relied on testing users on Google Meet. To set up the test, I gave the user a goal and quietly watched as they browsed the site and completed the tasks given, noting any areas that created any tension or roadblocks. I also had the user speak out loud as they were testing nothing anything that may be difficult for them to use.
Although testers were generally able to make it through their tasks, it was apparent that we needed to make some changes to search. Due to development constraints, the search was split up into two bars which the user would choose through a dropdown. This was not ideal for the user. An omni auto-complete search would fix the user issues.
Another key issue regarded leaving a review for a politician. Users could not navigate the confusing form. A redesign of the review form was in need. I created a simple, one-column form with a repeatable field for leaving comments on specific policies. In round two of user testing, this user issue was solved.
Final Desktop Designs
Outcomes & Lessons Learned
The site is currently in its beta phase. The company hopes to have 100 reviews by the end of the year and to get 501(c)(3) status by next year.
As it stands, most of our politician pages have a bounce rate of around 20-30% but few politicians with a lack of data have a bounce rate of about 80%. My hope is that Politician Report can find a way to get this crucial local candidate data to the voters and retain them long enough to keep browsing and make the crucial voting decisions they need to make.
Overall, I learned so much about the voting process and how people generally feel about their local government through user testing. Having a straightforward way to get voting information is key to a thriving democracy. The user tests I conducted at Politician Report were the most informative user tests I have run to date. Through those tests, I gained insights into testing and research for further projects.
My hope for Politician Report is that they continue to grow and create transparency in government and lead people to participate in their local elections.