UX Studio Practices | The UX of democracy

Brief 🔍

Design an experience that addresses the democratic process

Teammates: 🤝Alexandra, Aarushi, Yan, Kiki

Research Methods 📚

We used "Literature review" and "Prototyping" methods to do our project. In the beginning, a question popped up in my mind: What is democracy? There is a lot of definitions and meanings in different countries. As we all know, democracy is not only focusing on political issues. In some ways, we are having different types of democracy in our daily life. For example, we can vote for choosing our class representative in school. No matter it is an electronic voting system or a ballot paper voting system, there are grey areas. Even no perfect democracy system is in the world, we still believe that we can improve it as a user experience designer. It probably is the most interesting yet challenging topic for us.

Group discussion photo

First Stage

During brainstorming idea, I thought of the electronic "Blockchain" voting system. I suggested the team to explore this direction. We thought about how can people vote from other states or countries. It can protect voters' identity in a very safe way. However, after doing research, we still found out that there are some pros and cons for the blockchain system. As the system can create an anonymous voter base, we suddenly popped up an idea about creating an anonymous candidate system. The candidates basically just tell about the plans they have for the country, but they can't reveal their identity. Therefore, the voters don't have to be scared in any way while voting. Then, we did the literature review by reading some journals and articles. We found out some interesting insights and we concluded them with some keywords and sentences.

Recap of Literature Review


As we have an Indian groupmate, Aarushi suggested that we can focus on the Indian democracy system. In Indian Politics, a lot of parties and their promised are cultural, caste and gender-biased, so if the system is moulded in this way, maybe it can be solved.

Then, we create a role-play and voting in our first presentation. As we thought that changing the whole system is too difficult. Why not we just do one layer modification of the system. We set the role-play as a class representative election. We only provided the promises and basic information for each candidate. The anonymous candidates wore different coloured boxes without showing their faces. All the voters only make their decision based on their promises rather than their personal/ party background.

Team Photos in the first stage

At the first stage, we tried to create potential opportunities for creating an anonymous candidate system. However, after getting feedback from our classmates and professors, we are awakened that we were in the wrong direction. Even if we hid their faces it can't totally tackle the cheating problem. Therefore, we redesigned our idea which is adding a layer to the democratic process. It can encourage voters and future voters to think critically about the policies proposed by political parties rather than voting based demographic or social reasons.

Production Process

Final outcome 🤞

We did a presentation and created an experience for the class. We invited four classmates to be the voters and used our prototype to start a discussion. They need to decide the rating and reasons for each decision. We tried to find out how they think of different aspects during their discussion. Also, we tried to build up their critical mind so that they won't make unclear voting.

Photo during the discussion
The discussion machine
Team Photo:)

Project feedback & Reflection

We received some valuable feedback from our classmates. In the beginning, they like our idea of creating the anonymous candidate system. However, we found out it is too ideal and not work in the real world. For the last prototype, they like us to create a machine that teaches people to think and discuss critically. We think that even if it is just a one layer change and improvement, it may also bring a huge effect on the whole democratic system.

References 📖

Acharya, A. Roemer, J. and Somanathan, R. (2015). Caste, corruption and political cometition in India. Research in Economics, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp.336-352

Hester, R. (2010). Design for ecological democracy. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Howell, J. and Simmons, R. (2015). Designing Democracy: How designers are changing democratic spaces and processes. Design Commission. Policy Connect.

Naessens V., Demuynck L., De Decker B. (2006) A Fair Anonymous Submission and Review System. In: Leitold H., Markatos E.P. (eds) Communications and Multimedia Security. CMS 2006. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 4237. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

Sunstein, C. (2001). Designing democracy: What constitutions do. Oxford University Press.

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