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DecisionLoop: Design Specification


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Decision Loop is a project to enable people to quickly find out what actions they can take to affect political change.

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DecisionLoop: Design Specification

  1. 1. DECISIONLOOP A responsive web application for political action
  2. 2. DecisionLoop is a responsive website that address the usability shortcomings of the current system of public political participation. For organizers, it provides a way to gather action steps around a cause and to advertise those steps to people interested in the cause. For people who may not be familiar with political strategy, it provides an easily accessible, jargon-free place to find out anything they can do to help.
  3. 3. Issue Page 2 1 3 4 1. Description fades out to indicate that it will expand if tapped. is eliminates the need for a small “read more” link. 2. Before the “What You Can Do” section is an alert of the next important event related to the issue. is lends a sense of urgency to the viewer. 3. Each action step in the What You Can Do section goes to a separate page with more information 4. e “Get Educated” section leads the user to more information, but involves functionality to remind them that there is still action to be done
  4. 4. Post a New Issue 5 6 7 5. e jurisdiction that the issue falls under will determine who the relevant people and organizations to contact are. ere are options for “I don’t know” and “Not Applicable.” 6. e option to suggest people contact a representative is automatically configured based on jurisdiction 7. Other action options involve screens to ask the user to enter more details
  5. 5. Contact your representative page 8 8. e representative contact page takes advantage of device capabilities to enable single-click calls, emails, and tweets, as well as a single-click post office finder. For many jurisdictions, this information is publicly available in an easily accessible format.
  6. 6. Design Research | Background Ramírez De La Piscina, Txema. “Social Movements in the Public Sphere New Forms of Communication Arise and Transgress Old Communication Codes.” Zer: Revista de Estudios de Comunicacion 12, no. 23 (November 2007): 63–87. Barnes, Gary, and Peter Langworthy. Increasing the Value of Public Involvement in Transportation Project Planning. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Department of Transportation, March 2004. Grengs, Joe. “Community-Based Planning as a Source of Political Change: The Transit Equity Movement of Los Angeles’ Bus Riders Union.” Journal of the American Planning Association 68, no. 2 (2002): 165–178. doi: 10.1080/01944360208976263. Hillier, Jean. “Beyond Confused Noise: Ideas Toward Communicative Procedural Justice.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 18, no. 1 (September 1, 1998): 14–24. doi:10.1177/0739456X9801800102. Maskovsky, Jeff. “Governing the ‘New Hometowns’: Race, Power, and Neighborhood Participation in the New Inner City.” Identities 13, no. 1 (2006): 73– 99. doi:10.1080/10702890500535566. I had previously conducted research in the field of public participation, specifically in the field of transportation and sustainability planning. I found that the basic logistics and difficulty of participating at all was the main barrier to participation, and allowed planning departments to legally get the required level of participation without actually having the relevant members of the public represented.
  7. 7. Design Research | Competitive Analysis Traditional Organizing Meaningful relationships are possible, and people involved are willing to put in a lot of time and knowledge to figure out solutions ey take a lot of human power, photocopying, and phone banking to work Open Town Hall Allows citizens to comment directly to the government agency anytime and anywhere with an internet connection without necessarily having to sit through a lengthy public meeting To access, users must go to the agency website, which may not be where they usually are. Commenting requires knowledge of planning documents and planning jargon. Social interaction between users is limited. Petitioning Websites Mobilizes huge numbers of people to do something, often written in a compelling style, and very easy to do for almost everyone A few levels away from direct action for the sake of convenience. Makes people think they are doing their civic duty without following up with those people to keep them engaged. Neighborland Easy for anyone to state anything they want in the city and would be willing to organize around. Suggestions for change are divorced from the context of action already being done, the larger political ecosystem that include opposition, and the people who hold power.
  8. 8. Design Research | User interviews 30 responses to an online survey about online political participation Phone interviews with a journalist, a student organizer, a government employee responsible for public outreach, an organizer at an LGBT athlete advocacy organization, and an organizer that facilitates discussions to help people isolate their issue and strategize Discussions with other GA students and people at the Code for San Francisco Civic Hack Night
  9. 9. Persona | Kendall Kendall has been working in organizing for over 20 years, and is used to, though still frustrated with, the difficulty of bureaucracy, strategy, and mobilizing others. Still, she has had many successes (and failures), so she is well aware of her own capacity to affect change. She is also aware that it is meaningless without community support and empowerment, so when she interfaces with those outside of her organization, she always tries to let them know that there are many things they can do to contribute. She is starting to use Facebook to post the images from the events she attends, and to show off organizers, organizations, and people she is impressed with. She also uses Facebook to encourage people to come to her organization’s events and to ask people to vote and volunteer on campaigns. She is busy with the day-to-day activities of her organization, which is concerned with serving people, and the political activities, which are intended to make it easier and less necessary to serve those people. Age: 46 Occupation: Vice President of a mid-sized Los Angeles nonprofit for the mentally disabled
  10. 10. Age: 23 Occupation: Macy's Cosmetic Beauty Advisor She learned about the political process years ago in her high school government class, but has never really thought about the possibility of incorporating it into her everyday life. Although she reads blogs and news articles and casually talks about politics with her friends when it’s interesting or relevant, she is somewhat embarrassed to admit that she has no idea how or if she could have a say in politics. Sometimes her friends post links to petitions on Facebook. If she agrees with them, she will usually sign it because she wants to contribute to her friend’s cause, she wants to stay politically involved, and petitions are easy to sign. Although she feels that signing petitions helps, she is somewhat distrustful and unsure of how exactly they help. She never finds out about the outcome of the petition, but still seems to receive heaps of spam email from the petition organizers. Persona | Daniela
  11. 11. User Roles in the system Organizer/ Organization Politician/ Agency Citizen elects to office and expresses opinions to makes decisions regarding citizens empowers citizen to be active in politics relies on organizers for relevant information spends a lot of time interacting with government so others don’t have to. trusts organizations with experts over non-expert citizens
  12. 12. App Diagram Home Page: Custom Issue Feed Browse topics Create an Issue My Profile Following Settings Global Navigation Sign Out Enter Information Enter Action Steps Notifications Edit Profile Issues Tags People Individual Issue Page Action Steps ("What You Can Do") More Information ("Get Educated") Popular Tags Issues within those tags
  13. 13. First Iteration Landing Page Issue Page
  14. 14. User Feedback on First Iteration Making the central feature on the front page a huge search box with the text “What issue are you working on right now?” is prohibitive to a huge segment of potential users who are not activists. e site is too neutral: where are the emotional appeals? “Your Issues” sounds like a psychological problem. Perhaps “Following” would be a better word choice. All notion of time is missing (i.e. legislative timeline, deadlines for participation, a sense of urgency, etc.)
  15. 15. Second Iteration Landing Page v.1 Landing Page v.2Topic Page Issue Page
  16. 16. User Feedback on Second Iteration Navigation is entirely unclear. ere is too much text and not enough imagery. Having “Post to Social Media” as an action step perpetuates slacktivism and is counterintuitive to the purpose of the project. Action steps are vague and uninviting. Being specific is possible and preferable. Using twitter hashtags as issue names is confusing. So is the word “issue”, for that matter.
  17. 17. Third Iteration
  18. 18. User Feedback on Third Iteration e “What You Can Do” boxes don’t look like calls to action. ey have tiny text and are hardly offset from the background. ere is no visual hierarchy of which action steps are the most important ones to do. Try giving a single option. Key dates seem disconnected from the rest of the page. ere is no sense of relevance or urgency. Crowdsourcing action steps is asking for trouble. Let the organizer choose the steps and who else can contribute.
  19. 19. Fourth Iteration
  20. 20. Flow | Daniela’s path She enters through a link posted on Facebook to “Support healthcare workers in San Francisco!” Once on the issue page, she reads a little about the cause, and chooses to contact her senator Since she is most comfortable with Twitter, she chooses to tweet her concerns
  21. 21. Flow | Kendall’s path Kendall enters through home page She uses the dropdown navigation to select “Post an Issue” She enters basic issue information She adds in the action steps she thinks would help K t An issue is successfully posted and she sends out the link to friends, family, and colleagues
  22. 22. Next Steps Add in a helper page before the Post a New Issue flow to tell people what an appropriate issue for the site is. Add an “I don’t know what to say” section of the “Contact your Representative” page to give people a script or template that might help them. Interview more organizers about their current strategies and mental models of organization. Prototype an overlay bar on external news articles that prompts people to take action Code it up and keep iterating!
  23. 23. Thank you! Project by Maya M. Wagoner