Level Up, hosted by Design Co at UCSD, is a 10-week design fellowship that provides students and recent graduates with the opportunity to tackle a real-world challenge.
To create a digital solution within the problem space of Voter Experience.
As the UX Researcher for this project I was in charge of:
Spearheading online research and interviews intended to understand the needs of users and define problem areas in San Diego voting experience.
Spearheading the synthesis of findings into clear and actionable insights for the app intended to address the key challenges of our stakeholders.
Spearheading user testing (recruitment and testing guidelines) for low, mid and high fidelity prototypes in order to improve usability of app
As the Content Strategist for this project I was in charge of:
Establishing and defining our digital solution’s tone and voice guidelines
Optimizing product copy for usability
Mood Board & Style Guide
High Fidelity Prototype
How might we provide an easier way for young San Diego county voters to understand and stay informed about what they will be voting for so that they vote more confidently and frequently?
Why we chose to address this problem:
As we witnessed political and racial tensions rise during the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to use this period as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the problems surrounding these issues, for example, those related to voting. In order to address the problems facing American voters, we first sought to focus on voting in San Diego, California. Youth voter participation is especially low in San Diego. This made it crucial and personal to us to find a solution that would ultimately increase youth voter participation in the place where we call home. Finding a successful solution here could also then help us better scale our app to other counties and cities in the future.
VoteKit is an educational toolkit packed with personalized lessons about local, statewide, and federal candidates and propositions to help youth become more politically informed. These lessons assist users in making confident voting decisions and give users the chance to quickly revisit their voting preferences when filling out their ballot.
Our two main user flows are:
Completing a lesson
First, users will be asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements related to the lesson topic
Then, a voting suggestion for them will be calibrated based on their responses from the previous lesson content
Finally, users will learn more about what this vote means and what impact it could have
Revisiting Voting Preferences
After completing each lesson, users will be asked to input their own voting preference on the lesson's voting card
These cards can then quickly be revisited in their personal hub for the user to view lesson summaries and their voting preferences
Through this research we found:
Americans under 30 make up more than one third of eligible voters
However, Americans under 30 are also 38% less likely to make it to the polls during general elections than Americans over 60
Insights from our 1st survey, scoped to the U.S.:
33 out of 48 respondents said they have looked up or read information about one or more candidates within the past two months, compared to only 14 out of 48 who have looked up or read information about one or more propositions within this same time frame
When asked what could be improved about their voting experience, 9 out of 48 surveyors mentioned the desire for a "workshop", "database", "cheat sheet", or similar to improve the accessibility and centrality of information regarding the candidates and propositions appearing on their ballot
"I wish information about local candidates was more readily available. I sometimes am not able to [find any] info and must [only] choose based on the party or prior job of the candidates." - Survey Respondent (18-20 years old)
Insights from our 2nd survey, scoped to San Diego:
Out of the 48 respondents between the ages 18-29, 47% use websites and 38% use social media as their main form of addressing voter concerns
In contrast, of the 18 respondents between the ages 30-39, only 33% use websites and 27% use social media to address their voter concerns
After gauging how voters felt about this upcoming election during the pandemic, many responses mentioned safety, accessibility, and participation as major concerns
"[I’m concerned about] underrepresented groups not having access or knowledge about voting information and voting rights" - Survey Respondent (25-29 years old)
After the results from these surveys, we brainstormed various design solutions and organized them by the problems we extracted from the responses.
After this, we mapped these ideas based on their feasibility and impact. Our goal was to choose an idea that was possible to build if we weren't constrained to our 10 weeks and that would have a high impact on our users.
From here, we decided to address low voting confidence and motivation by improving users' knowledge of candidates and propositions through an interactive learning app. To confirm we were heading in the right direction, we sent a final survey solely to our key demographic.
Insights from our 3rd survey, scoped to youth in San Diego:
10 out of 15 respondents admitted they have guessed or skipped voting on part of their ballot before due to their lack of knowledge regarding propositions, candidates, or the voting process
14 out of 15 surveyors would wish to see short summaries explaining various political/voting topics in an app about local and federal politics
Only 1 respondent believed they had little to no knowledge of presidential candidates, compared to 11 out of 15 who believed they had little to no knowledge of San Diegan candidates
We did some exploration on existing templates and best selling themes and alternative solutions.
Political Literacy App: Fact-a-Day App:
The goal for our lo-fi testing was to get feedback on both app ideas and to determine what features should be included in our final design solution.
Main Lo-Fi Testing Insights:
4 out of 5 users preferred the idea behind the Political Literacy app over the Fact-a-Day app
4 out of 5 users preferred the layout of the Fact-a-Day app over the the Political Literacy app
4 out of 5 users said they would prefer using an app over a website
Based on the feedback we received, we decided to hone in on the political literacy app idea and create a mid-fidelity prototype for the app.
The goal of our mid-fi testing was to continue narrowing down the key features that should be included in the final design.
Main Mid-Fi Testing Insights:
6 out of 6 users preferred calibration questions over testing knowledge quizzes
6 out of 6 users “liked” the “View Sources” page seeing as it allowed them to gauge how credible our lesson content was. The “View Sources” page highlighted all the sources that we based our lessons on.
Having two types of lessons—process lessons (e.g. Mail-in Voting) & content lessons (e.g. Propositions, Candidates)—made our app less focused
Through the feedback received during user testing, we narrowed down the features that we wanted to include in our high fidelity prototype. We then carried out hi-fi testing, including A/B testing of different layouts and visual design. The main goal of our hi-fi testing was to determine changes that would improve the app's usability and visual design.
Main Hi-Fi Insights:
Utilize mascot more
Incorporate more visuals in the lessons
A/B Testing Insights:
5 out of 7 users preferred the search bar to be visible
"If I'm going to be searching something, having that instant search bar access is fine with me. I don't need another page." - Diana (25-29 years old)
6 out of 7 users preferred different colored categories
"Same background looks a little plain. Color signifies different section." - Jaime (18-20 years old)
"[Having] different color[s] is good idea because different information binds to color for me." - Reilly (30-35 years old)
5 out of 7 users preferred a vertical layout of agree/disagree/neutral buttons (right)
The vertical layout of buttons "looks cleaner with centering of rest of page" - Reilly (30-35 years old)
"It's easier to click what I want to click. If [the buttons] are all next to each other, it's the same level, and I might click the wrong thing." - Peony (18-20 years old)
After hi-fi testing, we continued to improve upon the usability and visual design of our prototype until we came to our final iteration.
As we progressed in our hifi prototypes, I did a lot of work in translating our lesson research into UX copy that was easy to understand and follow. Another goal of ours was to make the copy align well with how users saw the visual design of our app : “welcoming”, “warm” “friendly.
In this example, the goal was to make the statement on the left more concise and easier to follow. The result was the statement on the right.
In this example, the goal was to make the statement on the left less confusing and more straightforward. The result was the statement on the right.
For more information about our process and design strategy, here is the link to our full case study.
Here is the interactive live prototype for VoteKit.
I learned and grew a lot as a UX Researcher during this 10 week project. For one, I saw the importance of taking the initiative to dig deeper. The process for a design solution should be a good story and a good story doesn't have gaps or inconsistencies. Hence, whenever I realized that there were aspects of the core problem that we didn't understand completely, I advocated and led efforts to further the research in those areas. Good storytelling is something that I want to continue working on. Secondly, I learned how to empathy map in a variety of ways. Empathy mapping proved very useful in this project.
If we had more time, we would expand the lesson content so that our app covers all the candidates and propositions for the San Diego region, the state of California, and the presidential elections. The app would also expand to cover other cities, counties, and states. For features within the app, we would revisit the leaderboard feature so that the social aspect of the app would be brought back. User privacy is a top concern, so the leaderboard would only show how many lessons a user has completed for the purpose of incentivization. The app would not share users' calibrated vote or their personal voting decision. We would also include the option for users to password-protect their app/voting decisions using a PIN, Touch ID, and/or Face ID. The app would also consider more functions within the lesson structure. For example, the option to give users feedback and more guidance when choosing to vote 'yes' for 2 or more candidates running for the same position.