Voting for Youth Generations


︎ UX Designer & Researcher
︎ Mobile app prototype

Problem


Out of all the age groups in the U.S.A., young adults (ages 18-29) are the least likely to vote in local and presidential elections. So, how might we encourage and make it easier for college students to vote?

Designed Solution


An app (as an extension of the university portal) that helps students vote by addressing three key pain points: lack of access, education, and community. This experience meets students where they’re already at: their phones and student accounts.







How it works 



Registering to vote


Like a trusted friend, this app prompts college students to register to vote at the appropriate time. With a quick “to-do” list, students can stay on track of timeline and tasks. References and quick facts also inform students about campus events, organizations, and resources.


Purpose


To not miss a deadline by mistake.

Learning about candidates


Like a trusted friend, this app helps students learn about candidates through credible sources. Explore local and national candidates and stances.


Purpose


To make a well-informed decision and make space for critical thinking.




Prepping for voting day



Like a trusted friend, this app ensures that students have a valid form of identification to vote. Effortlessly scan your ID through your camera to check its eligibility.


Purpose


To not be sent home because of an invalid form of identification.

Planning when & where



Like a trusted friend, this app helps students plan where and when to vote at their best convenience. Make a plan with a preferred form of transportation in mind (whether it be using a car, bike, skateboard, or legs). Branch out and plan with friends. And finally, set a reminder to remember to go vote.


Purpose


To no longer have “I don’t know where or when” as an obstacle to voting.




 Problem 


Young adults = least likely to vote.


Out of all the age groups in the U.S.A., young adults (18-29) are the least likely to vote in local and presidential elections. But why? I asked a few college students and these were among the most common responses:


 INFORMATION GAP
After researching and observing UNT’s voting information and processes, I noticed that voting information was scattered and not easily accessible. This exposed the gap between voting information/resources and college students.





 Research 


Understanding the “why” with college students


Using ethnographic research methods, I interviewed young adults who had never voted before. We mostly met one-on-one over coffee or some pizza (or Zoom). During that initial time, I got to know them and then asked them more specific questions about voting. Our conversations revealed a few patterns:



 LACK OF ACCESS 
Access to voting information is not easy to come by for new voters. As one who does not use social media, interviewee LANE shared that he lacked access to key information for getting his absentee ballot. As a result, he was unable to vote because of time constraints. Similarly, interviewee ANTHONY lacked physical access since he registered at a county that was inconvenient for him to vote in.

 LACK OF EDUCATION 
When asked about the steps it takes to vote, interviewee ASHLEY was unsure on the specifics of each step. Interestingly, many of the interviewees were not able to explain voting concepts like the electoral college. These instances exposed the education gap among young adult non-voters.

 LACK OF COMMUNITY 
Interviewee ERIC was quick to share that non of his friends voted (except his parents). He suggested that inviting and joining others would compel him to vote.


 Archetypes + Journey 


1. Busy, mission-minded Penelope 



Penelope is a full-time freshman. With no car and COVID-19, she’s felt lonely and isolated. Although it’s election season, Penelope is unaware of political events because of her busy schedule, part-time job, and loads of homework. With low interest, voting is the last thing on her mind.


 TAKEAWAYS 
︎︎︎ Guiding Principle: excel in academics
︎︎︎ Inner thinking: too busy to think about voting


 GOALS / NEEDS 
︎︎︎ Good grades
︎︎︎ Complete daily tasks efficiently
︎︎︎ Human connection
︎︎︎ Easier way to learn about on-campus resources and events (voting)


 PAIN POINTS / FRUSTRATIONS 
︎︎︎ Too busy to think about voting
︎︎︎ Unfamiliar with voting process
︎︎︎ No car (limited mobility)
︎︎︎ Feels disconnected (no community, COVID)
︎︎︎ Her social circles are also unaware of voting
︎︎︎ Voting swarming her social media


 IMPLICATION 
Penelope needs to be met where she is already at: on-campus, her phone, and student portals.


College students need guidance and reminders throughout the entire voting process.


Feels

︎
︎︎︎ Hopeful
︎︎︎ Excited
︎︎︎ Curious (about voting/current events)
︎︎︎ Longing for community/connection

︎
︎︎︎ Anxious (new territory)
︎︎︎ Insecure (about fitting in)
︎︎︎ Lonely (missed out on opportunity to vote)
︎︎︎ Confused
︎︎︎ Frustrated
︎︎︎ Pressured (packed schedule/to-do list)
︎︎︎ Busy
︎︎︎ Overwhelmed (with school)
︎︎︎ Peer pressure (what might others think of my voting decision)

Does


︎
︎︎︎ Talks to roommates about elections
︎︎︎ Browses social media and sees voting ads
︎︎︎ Spends late nights in her dorm room
︎︎︎ Constantly on her computer and Zoom
︎︎︎ Stops by for free pizza at debate party

︎
︎︎︎ Ignores most voting campus tables
︎︎︎ Constantly rushing to her next task
︎︎︎ Ignores most emails

Thinks


︎
︎︎︎ Who do I even vote for?
︎︎︎ I wonder: how would I vote?
︎︎︎ I’m old enough, right? 😁
︎︎︎ What information do I trust?

︎
︎︎︎ When is voting day, again? I forget.
︎︎︎ I have too much homework to go vote.
︎︎︎ Will my vote make a difference?
︎︎︎ What if I vote for the wrong person?
︎︎︎ What if I regret my vote?
︎︎︎ Maybe I'll vote next year...
︎︎︎ Voting ads on media and TV are annoying.
︎︎︎ I don’t like political party stereotypes.

Says

︎
︎︎︎ Have you ever voted before?
︎︎︎ Is your Insta feed swamped with elections?
︎︎︎ I don’t have time to vote this year.

︎
︎︎︎ I’m too overwhelmed to think about this.
︎︎︎ Are there any deadlines?
︎︎︎ I’m too young to think about this.
︎︎︎ If my parents didn’t vote, maybe I shouldn’t either.
︎︎︎ I don’t know what I need to vote.




2. Community-driven Alex


Alex is all about his community.  He’s committed to deepening his friendships in college. Alex is too busy planning and hanging out with his friends to be concerned about what happens outside his social circles. None of his friends talk about voting so he’s generally uninterested in investigating for himself.


TAKEAWAYS:
︎︎︎ Guiding principle: commitment to this community
︎︎︎ Inner thinking: Voting is out of sight, out of mind


GOALS / NEEDS
︎︎︎ Deepen friendships
︎︎︎ Mentor freshmen
︎︎︎ Become influencers at college
︎︎︎ A balanced school/person life


PAIN POINTS / FRUSTRATIONS
︎︎︎ Voting ads populating his social media
︎︎︎ Unfamiliar with voting process
︎︎︎ Cramming class assignments 
︎︎︎ Club president bust responsibilities






 Ideation 


Generating + prioritizing ideas





 Strategy 


Anchoring on user / business needs


︎ BUSINESS GOAL: STUDENT AFFAIRS
︎︎︎ Increase student engagement with voting

︎︎︎ Develop university voting initiatives

︎︎︎ Connect students to on-campus voting resources

︎ (PRIMARY) USER GOALS: NON-VOTING/FIRST TIME VOTERS

︎︎︎ Quick way to learn about voting

︎︎︎ Ability to complete tasks needed for voting

︎︎︎ Feel like they are not alone in the voting process




Two-part system


This system has two parts.
app aims for immediate impact to increase student voting turnout.
the game approaches how voting principles and practices can be taught to and adopted by middle schoolers. (Not shown in this case study.)




See early and in-progress iterations of Part 2 HERE ︎︎︎
︎ SIDE NOTE: BRIDGING PRODUCTS TO STUDENTS THROUGH...
︎︎︎ Posters (quirky and fun)

︎︎︎ Train on-campus influencers to share info
︎︎︎ Social media advertisement 
︎︎︎ Consider how this product fits into the overall UNT ecosystem
︎︎︎ Partnering with already established clubs



Hypothesis

If a civic engagement app helps provide the access, educational resources, and community that many college students are lacking, then young adults may be more likely to vote.




Stopping the non-voting cycle with short- and long-term goals


My goal is to make it easier to vote by meeting students where they are already at: their phones and student portal accounts. Although the goal is to cultivate quick and  short-term change (more voting among young adults now), it is important to consider how this issue came to be.

The goal is that young adult voter turnout would increase over time for l That is why I consider how we might better equip younger generations (before they reach voting age) to vote.



 Design 


Sketching



SKETCHES & WIREFRAMES
Sketching black and white wireframes taught me to  iterate quickly  through concepts.


Designers need to be willing to change directions as research reveals new findings.  Don’t fall in love with the first idea. 


Wireframing + Prototyping




Task 1: Registering to vote




Task 2: Learning who is on the ballot





Task 3: Inviting friends to join




 Testing + Modifications 


Planning to vote




Finding key information and sources




Prepping for voting day 






 Conclusion. 





Impact & Value


︎︎︎ Young adult college students would have an easier and more   accessible way to register to vote and learn.
︎︎︎ Young adults would have a greater say in national and local government.
︎︎︎ Middle schoolers would learn and internalize voting concepts, preparing them to confidently vote. ︎︎︎ This would ultimately help shift the trajectory of low voter turnout by equipping youth over time.

︎︎︎ This system is adoptable for diverse institutions. It is flexible and contains standardized information.

Measuring Success


︎︎︎ Task success rate: registering and voting
︎︎︎ Task completed time: to gauge efficiency
︎︎︎ Engagement and retention rates
︎︎︎ Experience survey (for qualitative feedback)
︎︎︎ Net promoter score (NPS): among college students, institutions, and community


What I learned


︎︎︎ Iterate quickly to sift through initial ideas that are improved through user feedback.
︎︎︎ Interviews are essential because they do not fail to provide the insights that are rare to come by.

What I’d do differently


︎︎︎ Include users sooner throughout the entire design process. (I primarily relied on secondary sources for my intial design decisions.)
︎︎︎ Partner with university administration and discuss feasiblity and explore potentional opportunities.

︎︎︎ I would further explore user flows for diverse users with unique circumstances (like absentee voting, deaf, accessibility, etc.).

WORK      ABOUT      RESUMÉ       ︎      ︎