SOCIAL DESIGN | UX DESIGN
Amberly, Marné, Sammy
2 weeks, 1 week (solo)
UC San Diego student life has many great characteristics but one area for imporovement is political engagement. For better or worse, it is well known amongst campus culture that UC San Diego has a noticeable lack of engagement in political elections, school-wide or national. In the non-voting demographics, there are many students who are interested in engaging but are often lost in the process due to the overwhelming amount of information.
We chose to focus on helping inexperienced voters be more knowledgeable on the voting process so that they can feel confident in the voting process. We created an app, Vote!, to provide an accessible resource for relevant election information . The goal of the app is to better educate and empower students on campus so they could be more active in civic affairs.
You can view the final design here ↗
My team and I were tasked with the challenge of finding some way to encourage the UC San Diego student body to participate in civic engagement over the period of a couple weeks. We were interested in how technology could be used as an asset in civic duties as the younger generations are more technology-aligned and thus very comfortable with their phones. Though this challenge scope was not design-specific, Amberly (fellow designer) and I were happy to use our design skills to create something that would achieve our goals.
With that decided, we dived right into research to understand what exactly UC San Diego students go through and what motivates their behavior and actions in civic duties!
For our research, we conducted field studies, supplemented with statistical data. My teammate, Marné worked as a poll worker for the past elections and was able to observe the voting experience through the student’s perspective. From her experiences and our research, there were a few key insights on student civic engagement:
Based on what students experienced, we wanted to tackle their issues with something relevant and accessible. We were at first interested in social media as that is the most reliable platform most people have access to. We had ideas like a political Tinder app where people would swipe to learn more about each other’s political views and sides or a current news Instagram account with relevant content.
Ultimately, we decided to have a voting guide app catered towards UC San Diego students because we felt it would be the best way to inform and engage the student population. Since people today go to technology to find their solutions, we thought it would be fitting to have relevant voter information at the tap of their phones.
Amberly and I created some sketches on different possible interfaces of the app. Some of the focuses were on navigating while others were on content. In the end, we combined our ideas to create a more simple layout as to not overwhelm users.
The app is to be used before and during an actual election season, which would be the most appropriate time for UC San Diego students to be informed on how to be best prepare. By providing an accessible source of education on the entire process, the app helps to foster confidence. The app works to break down the voting process--from registering to vote, understanding the ballot, and to knowing how to vote on election day--into manageable steps. The app purposefully separates the voting process into different components to create a simpler and more easily digestible resource for inexperienced voters.
I wanted to reimagine how our app works in the context of our most recent 2020 election. This election was unique for its pandemic setting, which led to changes for the voting process such as sending mail-in ballots for all registered voters in San Diego county. This information can be overwhelming to keep track of along with the usual voting process for many inexperienced users. So I updated our Vote! app to address new concerns.
You can view the prototype here ↗
This has been an exciting project for me to work on as I was able to design on a civil service project for the first time. That being said, I think it's important to address our limits. Although technology has always been a tool to aid various endeavors, it should not be the end-all solution. While an informational app may be helpful to many young voters, it will not solve low young voter turnout. Additional factors of low turnout include voter suppression, chaotic voting processes, voting apathy, and many more. As we continue to address said issues, we can also supplement solutions with technology like our Vote! app.