Tami Buckman


Vote Notes

An app to simplify pre-vote homework


What problems are we solving?

Many people don’t enjoy following politics but believe in the privilege of casting a vote. Voters sometimes don’t feel completely knowledgeable about the candidates when it’s time to cast their vote. 
Voters can encounter petitions and referendums on the ballot that they had not studied before showing up to vote. Wording on ballots can be hard to understand and confusing.
Many political content sources do not offer balanced perspectives and are not enjoyable to consume.
Voter turnout for lesser elections (voting for offices besides Presidential) is substantially lower.



Define the Problem

Justify the Need

Desk Research

Preliminary Survey


Research Findings


Brainstorm Solutions

Competitive Analysis




Low Fidelity Prototype

Content Planning


Mid Fidelity Prototype

Design System

User Testing

Next Steps

Problem Statement

The current methods for understanding political issues are frustrating and confusing for many people who want to be knowledgeable before casting their ballots. This frustration causes a barrier to voting that limits the political process in the United States. 

Desk Research

Key Learning from Desk Research
  • 20% less turnout for elections other than Presidential
  • Younger voters (ages 18-24) turnout at the polls 24% less often than voters aged 65-74
  • Too busy/forgot is a common reason for missing a voting opportunity

Preliminary Survey

20 Question Google Form Survey to capture:

  • Quantitative measures (such as voting frequency)
  • And qualitative responses (personal experiences with following politics and casting a vote)

Target Research Participants

  • Registered voters between the ages of 18-100
  • Steadfast voters and those who only vote periodically
Key Takeaways from Survey
  • Call of Duty Survey participants stated inconvenient/unknown dates/times or not being fully knowledgeable on candidates and issues as reasons for missing a voting opportunity or arriving at polls not completely confident.

  • It’s No Party 100% of survey participants said they don’t trust the vast majority of political content sources.


  • Truth Be Told Several survey participants expressed that is it is not enjoyable to follow politics. They are not sure that they can make an impact, and the political system is too complex and subject to corruption. 

  • Bigger Office, Bigger Turnout  100% of survey participants believe in the right to vote but more than 60% don’t vote in all elections: especially the elections for offices other than President. 

How might we reduce barriers to casting a vote for people who believe in their right and responsibility to vote but do not enjoy following politics? 


Some stakeholders that would be impacted by the product would be the political candidates, voting authorities and political content creators. If my product really works, more voters will turn up at polls more often and more informed.

Target Audience

Registered voters who do not enjoy following politics and believe they should vote more often than they do. Especially younger voters who have lower turnout rates compared to other age groups. 

Persona 1

Persona 2

Competitive Analysis

Voting Smarter Logo
Fast, fun election coverage with the familiar feel of a dating app. It’s like #Hinge4Politics.
Create a habit of daily civic engagement and cast your vote in each election.
Big Political Data to understand where citizens really stand on today’s issues.

Thorough analysis of direct competitors revealed opportunities to differentiate:

  • Demonstrate value and build trust before asking users to share their political stances.
  • Don’t offer every possible feature: just the essential ones.

What will be the key features?

Neutral, trustworthy content

Reminders in time to prepare to vote and on voting day

(including lesser elections)

Voter registration status and voting location

Sample ballot: increase awareness of decisions to be made

Simplified referendums and ballot language for clarity and understanding

What do we want to build?

An app to simplify the pre-vote homework.

Introducing Vote Notes, the app to quickly and intelligently get up to speed for the next voting opportunity.

No noise, no commentary, no bias. Just exactly what you need to get to the polls fully prepared.

Visual Design Development

Sketches were translated into a low fidelity prototype in Figma so that testing could be conducted on 3 task flows.

Low Fidelity Prototype

Usability Testing

testing demographics

Test Plan

4 individual in-person usability tests were conducted with the low fidelity prototypes. Testers were asked to complete 3 task flows.

Task 1: Log into the app and set reminders for the next voting opportunity.

Feedback: One tester suggested text or a visual aid be present on the screen to let the user know that more than one reminder option can be selected.

Task 2: View your profile and specify what issues are most important to you.

Feedback: 1 tester asked why a photo was included if the profile is not shared with anyone. 2 testers commented the wording of some of the political issues was not neutral. The wording suggested a position such as Gun Rights. If the app is supposed to be unbiased, all issue choices should be altered to be neutral.

Task 3: View the candidates for the next election.

Feedback: Candidate match may not be meaningful without more information to determine stance on detailed issues.

Additional Findings 

At the conclusion the tasks, feedback was also solicited on the political “left to right scale” that was part of the survey (task 2). Where would you plot yourself on this scale? The assumption was that this information would be needed in order to show a user which candidates had views similar to theirs (task 3). 

Testers commented that they are not on the same location on the scale for every issue. They are more conservative or more liberal for different issues so the scale was not very meaningful and may be misleading.

Assumptions: Confirmed or Challenged?

The need for the product was based on assumptions. The assumptions were confirmed or validated through desk research, user surveys, user testing and user interviews. The assumptions were turned into insights that directly informed the creation of product features.


Next Steps Based on Testing Findings 

Changes incorporated into the mid fidelity prototype based on user interviews and usability tests with the low fidelity prototype:

Home page

  • Removed My Important Issues from Home Page navigation
  • Added bottom navigation to highlight key features


  • Removed political slider 
  • Removed candidate matching feature that was to be based on political survey responses
  • Added candidate photos, bios

Sample Ballot 

  • Added sample ballot including link to candidates and translation of referendums into clear language 

My Profile

  • Removed user profile picture and political slider
  • Altered survey from ranking domestic and international issues in order of importance to agree/disagree on 3 timely political issues
  • Added information for registration status, voting location including directions and link to change voter information


  • Added privacy page to build trust, explain why this political content source is different
  • Added ability to share app


  • Added view/edit upcoming reminders page
  • Push notification before local election, local impact message

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

video preview


There were several challenging aspects of this project, even from the very start. When recruiting usability testing participants through the preliminary survey, I was surprised how many respondents opted out of the next round of research. Respondents needed reassurance that their answers would not be personally identifiable and were reluctant to even state with which political party they align. Discussing politics openly and honestly can be tough! But their hesitancy only reinforced the need for an unbiased product like the one I wanted to create.

I also was disheartened when I discovered several competitive products already in existence. But, persistence in researching the competitors uncovered user dissatisfaction with features such as mandatory political surveys before even being able to enter the app and user sentiment that there were too many features.

Through user testing and interviews, some innovative ideas were generated for keeping users engaged with a product that has a risk of only being remembered every 4 years during Presidential elections. I am excited to continue with the next round of testing with the mid-fidelity prototype and researching how to tailor content to users based on their survey answers.

Happy voting, everyone. Keep it kind, and get out there to vote!

Want even more details? View the slides.

Stock photography from rawpixel.com. Icons from flaticon.com.