Congressional Website Redesign
One summer, I worked for my Congresswoman in her D.C. office and learned that very few constituents ever actually contact their representatives. Those that call or send an email can have a significant effect on the agenda of a member of Congress. I wanted to increase constituent participation, as I believe it would benefit the Congresswoman as well as the district.
I realized most people, especially in the younger demographic, would prefer to email the office as opposed to calling so I wanted to improve her website (Figure 1).
While there are other changes to the website that would make it more aesthetically pleasing, I focused on improving the contacting portion of the site.
The first issue I identified was that there are three contact buttons on the home screen. All of these buttons lead to the same page, which only confuses the user. For my redesigned home page, I consolidated the three “Contact Us” buttons into one large and highlighted “Share Your Opinion” button located at the top right of the screen (Figure 2).
By combining the three buttons into one clear one, users will not be confused and will be drawn to contacting their representative.
The biggest complication associated with contacting the representative is with the forms that users have to fill out in order to send a message. Through my experience working in my Congresswoman’s office, I found that most users simply want to offer support for an issue or upcoming bill. The problem is that the forms require an unnecessary amount of time to complete.
Users are required to take the following steps:
- Select one of the contact us buttons, which leads them to the page shown in figure 3
- Enter their zip code and 4 digit zip code extension (no constituent, who I interacted with over the summer knew her extension)
- Assuming the user doesn’t know her extension, she is taken to the USPS page (figure 4) in order to retrieve it
- Once the user has retrieved her zip code extension, she has to return the initial page (figure 3) and enter it, which leads her to the final page (figure 5)
- Finally, the user fills out all the information on the last page (figure 5) and then is able to send her message
This process is time consuming and involves entering the same information on multiple screens. This prevents users from following through with their intentions of contacting their representative.
The biggest pain point is looking up the zip code extension, as it involves leaving the site and filling out an additional form. This step is designed to verify that a user is actually a constituent and not in a different district. This inconvenience can be mitigated by removing the zip code screen and replacing it with one form (figure 6). The first few fields would address this issue by checking to see if the inputed address is within the Congresswoman’s district. Figure 7 shows how the site would respond if the user is not in the correct district. If the user is in the Congresswoman’s district, she would have to fill out the rest of the information and then make her comment.
The Intended Effect:
My redesign simplifies the process of contacting the Congresswoman by reducing it to the following steps:
- Select the large “Share Your Opinions” button
- Input the user’s address, contact info, and message
Hopefully, by simplifying the process to contact a congressperson, this redesign will lead to more people expressing their opinions on a wide range of issues.
Please let me know if you have any comments on my redesign or ways to improve upon it!