Voting to make a difference
#MyBallot is a personal project that helps young voters make informed decisions about the candidates they’re selecting in upcoming elections. The project aims to consolidate a holistic view of the candidate from multiple channels, such as objective issues, social media presence, and past achievements.
Young voters may form impressions of candidates who are popular on the news, are seen repeatedly on social media, or are often discussed amongst peers. Consequently, they tend to have a limited high-level knowledge of these candidates or little to none on lesser known candidates. Oftentimes it's difficult to make key distinctions between multiple candidates with this limited working knowledge.
To design a website that helps young voters make informed decisions about candidates running for local, state, and general elections.
To facilitate a cross-comparison between two candidates to understand where they differ on policies.
Several platforms exist that serve as voters’ informational guides. Many commonly function with address lookup searches to narrow down candidates by district. Moreover, many have comprehensive candidate profiles as well as chunks of summaries.
Most platforms lack a feature that cross-compares two candidates by some component, such as key issues. As a result, information about candidates seems isolated from one another, when elections like primaries require voters to choose among candidates of very similar platforms.
Some competitors include:
learn the most about candidates from social media or the news
skim through secondary resources to learn about candidates' platforms
vote for a candidate for every office and are familiar with each person's platform
rated 4-5 out of 5 in agreeing that their peers influence their opinions on a candidate
rated 1-2 out of 5 in their likelihood of digging for more info on candidates of unfamiliar positions
adhere to Rational Choice Theory in their voting behavior
tend to research candidates around platforms they care about most
The responses I received from the survey helped craft a user persona representative of my target audience. The average user is a young voter who believes it's important to vote but may have trouble distinguishing between the policies of multiple candidates.
I created an empathy map to summarize the needs and mindset of my target user. This, paired with the user persona, would provide the reasoning behind every major design decision for the website's flow.
Of the survey findings, these were the points that stood out to me the most:
Young voters rely on brief summaries and social media to pass judgments on candidates
Young voters focus on specific platforms that matter to them the most
Some young voters may not research extensively for lesser known positions. This becomes especially concerning at the level of local government, where elected officials often have the most direct influence on a citizen's day-to-day life [source].
To consolidate these findings, I created a user flow that assessed three ways a user can gather more information regarding any election - an overview of a candidate's profile, a breakdown of points that candidates stand on, and a cross-comparison of two candidates that highlights their key differences.
For this design, I focused on the three ways in which the user could visualize the candidate's profile and platform.
While creating the final designs, I decided that the "Compare Candidates" page should be completely separate (as opposed to being a pop-up screen). The "Compare Candidates" and "Platform Overview" functions should have the same layout for consistency.
REFLECTION & NEXT STEPS
It was a challenge deciding on a coherent layout when many functions relied on the address search feature. My goal is for the user to avoid repeating the same information if they've already entered it once, so structuring the pages to fully depict that will likely require additional iterations.
For my next steps, I would build out the remaining menu items: a news page about campaign trail updates and an "encyclopedia" that breaks down the role and relevance of each government position.