Immediately following the culmination of 2020’s summer user experience workshop using themes of mutual aid as pedagogy, I offered a small financial investment to help a participant create a minimum viable product of their project.
Dierdre Shea, ceramicist and artist, began her research into pollsite accessibility for voters during the workshop and would go on to create a prototype of Poll2Poll, a platform to support citizen-led reporting on local polling stations & organizing in the event of polling location changes. Through the three-month post-workshop mentorship, I led Dierdre to consider her idea from a product management perspective: determining most essential features, creating a complete set of designs, setting realistic deadlines, managing workload, and communicating with the engineering team.
For the build, we worked with the amazing organization Emergent Works, a community bridging engineers and communities of color disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration.
Dierdre explains her impetus for creating Poll2Poll in the interview published at Point Line Projects, where you can also read more about Poll2Poll’s features and next steps:
As I was working on the concept, I learned that a family member’s polling location had been changed during the primary election because of decreased staff due to the pandemic. They missed the change-in-location notification (or never got it) and went to the polls at the end of the day, only to find that they would have to cross town to vote. They didn’t have a car, so they didn’t go. Some people are able to be super prepared to vote, and will vote against all odds, but many aren’t. Being able to adjust on voting day is a privilege. Lack of information/communication is voter suppression, even if it’s unintentional.
As a professional user experience and product designer who has worked in the field for the last 10+ years, I strongly believe that my role in mentorship and design education should be to promote thinking about projects in full life cycles: what happens to the idea after it’s formed? Who is participating in the user testing, prototyping, and build out? What communities of labor and perspectives are being included? Project manager Army Armstead was kind enough to speak to us about experience with Poll2Poll, and his answers further cemented my stance:
Q: Can you tell us about how you set out to product manage the poll2poll MVP? What were some considerations you had going into the project?
A: I have been studying to become a product manager over the last few months and wanted some hands-on experience with writing user stories and helping a team come up with an MVP that we can all be proud of. Through Emergent Works, I have had the opportunity to do so with Poll2Poll. I kept an open mind in hopes to learn as much as possible from everyone on the team.
Q: What do you see as the potential for Poll2Poll to engage with its users?
A: I'd like to see users use Poll2Poll as a resource in local and government elections. Poll2Poll allows people to find their closest location and gives them necessary information that can assist them with voting. It would also be great to see other people contribute to the app as an open-source project.
Q: What is the personal significance for you, working on this project?
A: I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and work with an amazing team to build technology that will be helpful in our communities and not just target the community members. I was a part of something greater than myself!
Lead UX/UI Design: Dierdre Shea
Project Management: Army Armstead and Roberto Goizueta of Emergent Works
Engineering: Dejohn Huffman and Vinícius Baggio Fuentes of Emergent Works
UX mentoring: Fei Liu