Abbe Fortune
6 min readOct 18, 2020

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For the third project of the General Assembly UX Design Immersive course my team was tasked with creating a responsive mobile and desktop website that addressed an issue within the current state of elections.

Opportunity

Our brief for this project was to design a responsive mobile and desktop website that addressed a current issue within elections. This would include:

  • Creating Screener surveys to find suitable interviewees that fit our target demographic
  • Conducting user interviews

Synthesizing our research through

  • Affinity Mapping
  • Journey Mapping
  • Moscow Map
  • Feature Prioritization Matrix

For this tasks, our team specifically focused on the mail-in voting system, which has been a source of unrest with the upcoming election of 2020 and social distancing regulations.

The Problem Space

First, we began looking at this problem space and began developing assumptions about the user and their experience.

  • People are confused about where to vote and when to vote.
  • People are concerned about how to correct misinformation on ballot submissions.

From there, our team drafted a hypothesis and problem statement, to get a better idea of what some of our users pain points may currently be while attempting to communicating remotely.

How might we find a way to make voters feel both secure and self-assured about voting from home?

Research

Once we were able to establish a loose framework of our user, we created a screener survey. This would allow us to find users that most closely align with our target demographic. For this project, we choose young 22–34 year old voters, who had previous experience voting via mail-in or absentee ballot. From there, we began conducting interviewers to learn about their previous experience with mail-in voting such as their approach to research, previous experience, and where how they handled error management within ballots.

During this process, we really developed a better understanding about our user and confirmed our problem space — Voters are feeling uneasy about the mail-in voting process and are unsure of how to amend any problems on their end. Although we affirmed our problem space in one regard, we found that most users still trusted the system and their personal network, and that they hadn’t lost their faith in the mail-in voting system as a whole. From our interviews we heard things such as:

I’m irritated I have to go the extra mile to ensure my vote is counted.

From those interviews, we proceeded to collect data via a methodology called Affinity Mapping, as you can see below:

`As you can see some natural themes emerged, such as an uneasiness about the current voting system, research methods primarily online and talking with family and friends to prepare for voting season, and the desire to be able to receive confirmation that your vote has been counted.

With a foundation of user knowledge beginning to form, our team created a persona of our user that would allow us to keep our user at the forefront of our minds for the duration of the project. Meet Estella a 28 year old Nurse working in Sacramento. With a very demanding work schedule due to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations for front line workers, Estella will be voting via mail-in ballot this upcoming election. With this persona in mind, Estella’s goals, frustrations, and needs, we can begin to design and integrate a website that fulfills her needs.

In addition, to the affinity mapping process, we developed a user journey map which is a methodology that allows us to go through an experience through the eyes of our persona “Estella”. To better understand the steps, high and low points, as well as her frustrations, we mapped out Estella’s digital registration process.

So what did we learn through our research?

  • Users are worried about the risks associated with mail in voting and an inability or lack of knowledge to fix the issue.
  • Users would like to be more informed regarding the status of their absentee ballot, mail-in ballot pre and post voting.
  • Users feel the mail-in voting system needs to be updated to incorporate more accessibility online.

From here we reevaluated our problem space to:

How might we provide a tool for new voters and veteran voters alike to be informed of the status of their mail-in ballot and be able to update their information.

Design & Testing

From the themes that emerged through the affinity mapping process and user journey map, we were able to gain key insights into our users. From here, we began a methodology called Feature Prioritization Matrix and a Moscow map which allowed us to decide which features would be integrated into this phase of our app, and which features would be put on hold for further iterations.

Through this methodology, we decides on several key features to execute during this iteration of our website such as

  • Ballot Tracking Information
  • Request registration information
  • Updatable Account Profile

As we approached the design & testing phase of our task, we began brainstorming through a methodology called design studio, which allowed our team to draft layouts an ideas quickly as well as bounce ideas off of one another.

From this process, we developed our mid-fidelity prototype of the app, and could begin generating scenarios and tasks for our usability testing.

Task 1: Update your current residence

Task 2: Complete the steps to receive a voter ballot for your current situation.

Task 3: Find the current status of your ballot

Immediately we received an exuberant amount of feedback, most of which was positive. Although some of the paths were indirect, every user completed the task successfully.

From the information we gathered during usability tests, we created several features to compensate for the failed tasks.

  • We created a sign up/log in page to give the user context that this was an account based website.
  • We created a page with information on absentee and mail-in ballots to ensure users were registering for the correct information.
  • We slightly moved an edit icon users were having trouble finding.

High Fidelity Prototype & Usability Tests

From there, we developed a high fidelity prototype with the necessary changes from our first round of usability tests, in addition to a responsive desktop website.

During our second round of usability testing, with the high fidelity prototype we found 5 new users who would take on the same three tasks as prior. As you can see results we skewed negatively and positively —

  • Task 1 had an increased average time on task and a 20% decrease in terms of its failure rate which is great.
  • Task 2 also had an average time increase on task.
  • Task 3 decreased time on tasks, but showed no change in success rate nor difficulty rating which is fantastic as we had so many great results during round 1.

For our next steps…

For our next steps we would love to re-evaluate how we distinguish between current address, and new address for absentee voting registration, remove the ribbon at the beginning of the let’s vote section. And lastly, change to do list to a resources section for voting research.

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