Voting made easy, for everyone!

Designing an easy to use mobile app experience that is accessible and loved by everyone.

Yana Carstens
Sep 29, 2018 · 8 min read

ABOUT THE PROJECT

This project was designed and developed during my time as Lead Product Designer with Table XI. Disability Action for America, a political action committee, came to us with a loosely defined digital product to get more people with disabilities to go out and vote. While they weren’t sure what they wanted to build, they did know they wanted to launch by the November 2018 elections. As with any new endeavor I had a lot of questions.

PROCESS OVERVIEW

The client was eager to get started, but instead of diving straight into production, it was critical to learn about the unique problems people belonging to different disability groups faced in their voting experience. This understanding would guide our design work toward maximum impact. I designed and conducted a two-week user research sprint to learn more about the problem space and built empathy with people whose life experiences differ because of physical or cognitive differences.

THE TEAM

The team was composed of two senior mobile developers, a senior project strategist, a product manager, two main stakeholders and one senior product designer(me). Although each specific role had it’s own purpose and responsibilities, there was a lot of overlap in disciplines and collaboration in all aspects during the full duration of the project.

  • Product strategy workshop — one week
  • Design and development — three months

DISCOVERY

User Research

I conducted user research through surveys, in-person interviews and industry analysis. We spoke with people who identified with having the following traits (physical, visible, invisible and mental impairments) to learn and understand what unique challenges they experience in the election cycle and how they currently overcome these challenges. A few sample questions:

  • What is most frustrating?
  • What needs to change to make the voting experience easier or painless?
  • Do they feel empowered?
  • What is keeping them from voting?
Research goals page from the key research findings document.
Key takeaways page of challenges for people with disabilities from the key insights document.
  • Non-visible physical disability (ex.deaf and partially blind)
  • Cognitive challenges (ex.autism, dyslexia)
Opportunities page by user group from research findings document.

Product Strategy

I designed and facilitated a three-day product design workshop as part of our discovery period to quickly get both teams collaborating, sharing perspectives and expertise around the business and the users. To speed up, we needed to slow down and gather all the information we need to make quick and smart decisions.

Working mental model build during the workshop to explore stages in the voting cycle.

MVP GOALS SUMMARY

Target users

  • Secondary: Politically engaged citizens
  • Increase county specific volunteer engagement
  • Launch beta version in five key states: PA, CA, IO, IL & FL
  • Design and build the app to be fully accessible to any person who is cognitive impaired (low spectrum autism and dyslexia)

THE RESULT: MEET BRINK

Brink is an app that empowers all citizens to participate in US elections with a particular focus on voters with disabilities. Soft launched in October 2018. Built for iOS and Android mobile devices.


AGILE DESIGN: THE THOUGHT BEHIND THE APP

Information Architecture

How does a user access all of the application segments?


Sketch Wireframes

Sprint focus: How might we increase voter turnout? What information can a user find on the home screen?

  • Notifications of key deadlines
  • Pollingplace location info
  • Voting logistics
  • Candidate information

Wireframes App Concepts

Detailed requirements for designers were captured in Trello cards and were gathered and written during sprint planning sessions.


Visual Design

Sprint focus: Visual direction exploration

Visual design concepts shown as style tiles.
  • Copy was written to be descriptive and clear to someone with autism who cannot easily decipher metaphors – a need we uncovered in our user interviews.
  • The text also included a healthy combination of imagery when appropriate, with no GIFs or other animations so as to not confuse/distress someone who is dyslexic – another finding from our user interviews.
  • Our user interviews also pushed us toward display fonts that are friendly to dyslexics.

User Interface Design

User flows show as low fidelity wireframes.

Wireframes and UI side by side.

Homepages designed for each phase in the voting process.

Home screen and interior screens.

Sentio Design

Powering companies through human-centered design.

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