Voterly originated from a singular mission of increasing voter turnout. From this mission we began to identify the biggest opportunity where we could potentially make the biggest impact. After preliminary research, we identified young voters age 18-35 to be the biggest opportunity due to low turnout metrics and consistent findings for reasoning. We found that this demographic typically fell into the "apathetic" category often citing reasons including "I don't like any of the candidates", "voting will not impact my life in a substantial way", "none of the candidates discuss issues that are important to me", "I am too busy to research local and state candidates", and more.
Our team developed an idea to help streamline and personalize political expertise to make it easier for voters to find politicians that they aligned closely with. Our goal was to create a tool where voters could answer a few quick questions about their personal political preferences, and we would use past voting records to create an alignment score for every federal, state, and local politician. In 15 quick minutes you could get a general understanding of how closely you align with any US politician. We took this concept and ran user tests to validate market fit and received resoundingly positive feedback so decided to move forward.
We created several iterations for each idea or feature to identify the optimal user experience while also achieving our priority business goals. We always collaborated closely with our development team to identify opportunities to more efficiently leverage limited resources.
We ran numerous user tests on initial concepts to identify optimal user flows to ensure user engagement and retention were as strong as possible before shipping designs to development. For example, with our onboarding user flow, we correctly assumed that we wanted to prioritize the issues most important to our users to get the best data possible on those key issues. We then relied on user testing to find alternative ways to request the remaining preferences over time. By prioritizing the issues important to users, we saw stronger engagement and conversion metrics across our tests.
Due to tricky and inconsistent data sources along with volatility in resources and funding, we had to get innovative with ways to add value to the user that would also be achievable with limited dev resources. We focused on our core goal of streamlining political expertise as our north star and identified some opportunities to take steps toward that goal with a stronger ROI in dev resources. One example included a Twitter integration that scraped each politicians posts and identified tweets that had strong correlation to key political issues. We manually tested 100s of tweets across 20 different politicians to determine viability prior to passing to the product management team. We then used internal engagement to refine the method and help surface the most helpful tweets for each issue to our users.
I helped the Solvv team go from zero to seed funding by building a beta program to rapidly test and iterate new concepts and features. Through initial research we found that many users with an interest in podcasting were intimidated with how to start. We developed a simple formula to help our users consistently generate interesting content that they could share.
I built out a simple figma prototype that the Solvv team would be able to conduct preliminary sessions within days to identify target audience and market fit. We conducted 100s of sessions to determine market resonance before we even broke ground on the app. Our users loved the concept and we quickly developed a loyal beta program. However, we also identified several issues that negatively impacted the user experience that we were quick to fix in the MVP design of the app.
The beta program community continued to play an integral role in the design and ideation of the MVP. While we did conduct user testing outside this program to mitigate bias, we were able to get abundant and rapid feedback for our target demographic and we went back to that well early and often. There were two common findings that we spend the majority of our time and focus on. First, users wanted more cues to help guide them through the standardized podcast session. The rigidity of the format made for higher quality content, but also increased the burden on users to understand when to contribute. We added numerous interactions and visual cues to combat this in the MVP. Secondly, users wanted to share their content and have an easy way to recruit connections to the app. We built out a robust sharing library that users could leverage to elevate their promotions and added several features to make it easy to invite friends or find other like minded users.
Solvv was able to launch their MVP app to a really great market response. Solvv was able to multiply their user base within the first month and were set up to approach VCs to land further funding with strong growth and retention.
Voting App was the antithesis of every design process I have ever embarked on. There are impossible design limitations to circumvent to provide an optimal user experience within the same user flow for the average voter in contrast to extreme accessibility use cases. Unlike most products that try to make their products "serviceable" for accessible users, we had to build a product with accessibility at the forefront.
Before the app could even be considered for usage in any US election, we had to adhere to stringent accessibility requirements provided by the US government. The government is generally regarded as slow in most facets and naturally, these requirements are antiquated and inhibitive. Aside from the things that most designers are familiar with like color, contrast, font size, etc., we had to ensure the app experience was enjoyable and secure for users who are blind, don't have use of there arms and require a sip n puff device, and have ancient devices that don't have the same capabilities as current phones. These limitations led to some of the most creative problem solving of my career in retrospect.
Due to the nature of this product, our target demographic was everyone. This is counterintuitive for most design processes as we had to ensure an 18 year old and a 90 year old could navigate the app. We created and tested multiple prototypes for every stage of the voting process to ensure optimal user experience for EVERYONE. The most impressive prototype we built for testing was a ranked choice prototype where we built out hundreds of screens with thousands of prototype connections. The juice was worth the squeeze as we were able to produce incredible completion metrics and strong usability responses.
We were able to run VotingApp in LIVE elections across the United States to secure thousands of votes for UOCAVA voters. We only received one poor review from an older voter that had issues with her authentication that relied on physical materials to verify identity. We were on trajectory to land statewide elections for 2024 before we suddenly had funding pulled despite being ahead of every benchmark to secure series B funding.