Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Design for Democracy

One of my classmates posted a query on her blog about Design for Democracy. She stated that she is interested in "challenging AIGA's design for democracy in the hope that their focus is not only on the redesign of ballots (I need to find out more about the initiative)…"

I was unable to post a comment because I wasn't a registered user, so I thought I'd move my response here. Design for Democracy is about much more than redesigning ballots, although that alone is something to be proud of. When I was lucky enough to work with Design for Democracy in Chicago in 2003 (as a student), we worked with cultural anthropologists and others to explore how to engage disenfranchised voters in Chicago. We focused on a few different diverse cultural communities in Chicago, sending out culture probes to several people from each group, and utilizing other user research methods. After researching, we narrowed down the scope of what our focus would be. After the design process, we introduced the materials into each cultural neighborhood in hopes that it would have an effect.

In addition, another group of graphic design students worked with industrial design students to improve the voting materials — much more than the ballots — really looking at the entire voting experience. From the ballots (yes), to the tool used to fill out the ballot, to the stands, etc.

To find out more about Design for Democracy:

"Established in 1998, AIGA Design for Democracy applies design tools and thinking to increase civic participation by making interactions between the U.S. government and its citizens more understandable, efficient and trustworthy. Independent, pragmatic and committed to the public good, Design for Democracy collaborates with researchers, designers and policy-makers in service of public sector clients and AIGA’s goal of “demonstrating the value of design by doing valuable things.”"


Valentina said...


thank you for the insightful response... as it is a starting point for me finding out more about the initiative. (as mentioned, i really know nothing) Yes indeed, the redesign of ballots is a great project.

Given my interests, I am looking to see if the initiative encompasses issues of access to quality healthcare. I believe that to be another great project to be tackled.

Glad to see some people are reading my blog! haha
hope you're having a wonderful summer.

marty said...

v -

i'm really excited you are interested in d4d and the healthcare aspect.

and, i am also glad that someone is reading my blog. hee hee.

hope you're having a good summer too. super exciting about your upcoming move to nyc!

kelly said...

m - after the materials were placed in the neighborhoods, were there any measures to indicate success? was there some way of seeing effect? super interesting that you worked with cultural anthropologists. i think i knew that (dori too, right?) but i am still mentioning now. hoping to find something like that in CA for work this year.