case study
CrowdLobby

A nonpartisan user-generated platform connecting the average American to professional political lobbyists through crowdfunded campaigns to fight for the issues that we care about and affect us all.

How can CrowdLobby make users feel more confident to contribute to a campaign which hires lobbyists?

Currently, users can donate any amount and once $50,000 is raised, CrowdLobby hires the lobbyist with the funds allocated to the issue. But people rate the honesty and ethics of lobbyists lower than any occupation measured including members of Congress and car salespeople (Gallup Polls 2006-2017).

After many iterations, we learned to prioritize the users' trust and offer transparency through the community, media literacy, and familiar design interactions.

Business Goals

Get at least one campaign fully-funded to hire a lobbyist to execute the work and run the process from start to finish.

Product Goals

(1) Establish the brand’s look and feel and (2) Convert users to donors by making the info easily digestible

Outcomes

To establish a nonpartisan brand identity will not only require a thoughtful selection of fonts, layouts, and content organization but, a sense of connection and community with like-minded supporters, accessible hosts, and lobbyists. To maintain transparency, we need an easily navigable site which makes the information more digestible. And ultimately, we should've created a persona instead of relying solely on the targeted user types to have a clear focus on the requirements which benefit all users.

Who is CrowdLobby?

Based in Richmond, Virginia, CrowdLobby is a platform that connects everyday people to professional political lobbyists through crowdfunded campaigns. Its operating model is to crowd-fund a lobbyist to work on a particular issue.

constraints

The site is built in Angular which is popular due to its modular approach and reusable code, so designing with components that have templates in mind is favorable.

Expansion Plans

CrowdLobby initially focused only on their state government (Virginia) but is now experimenting with federal-level campaigns, as well.

Measuring success

With the business goal in mind, we're tasked to consider how can we design to entice users to create a profile, visit regularly, share issues, and write a positive review.

established by crowdlobby to align on what matters
Design Principles
Credibility

Products and services will build users' confidence in the effectiveness of funded campaigns.

Transparency

Dedicated to making many aspects of its business available to the public, so long as there is no danger to users or the integrity of a campaign.

Motivation

Encourage users to contribute to campaigns they believe in, without adherence to traditional party affiliation.

Community-Focused

Recognizes and values the power of the Crowd and will remain devoted to its mission as a voice for the people.

The Original Campaign Page
While the minimal layout is reminiscent of popular crowdfunding platforms and can easily accommodate different campaign types, it doesn't impart a lasting brand identity. The combination of color choice, stock images, bold icons, poor text legibility, and dense descriptions won't see much user engagement despite how informative the content may be.
our expert audience

According to CrowdLobby, the target market consists of politically engaged individuals between the ages of 24-35 are significantly more likely to contribute to crowdfunding campaigns.

Targeted User Types
Women (Self-Identifying)

An untapped political force, women vote more than men and give more to charity, but only represent about 30% of big political donations (over $200). Research has shown they are more likely to give for “empathetic or altruistic reasons”.

Political Independents

Independents are the largest and fastest-growing political designation (nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults) and generally focused on issue-specific change, rather than giving support to a particular candidate or political party.

Millennials and Gen Xers

More likely to engage in crowdfunding campaigns than other generations; Millennials and Gen-Xers often distrust “major institutions,” and more likely to give to a service that advocates for a specific legislative change.

Competitive analysis
Direct
Competitors

Act Blue
Lobbyists4Good
NationBuilder

Strengths

Utilizes cards and/or grids to make content more digestible

Encourages small-dollar donations which greatly funded 2018 Democratic candidates, committees and organizations

Weaknesses

Visuals are either
lo-res or stock photos

Auto-enrollment in monthly donations

Opportunities

Create a trustworthy brand identity with better visuals, typography, hierarchy, and a more robust color palette.

Highlight interesting or popular projects on the home page and utilize design trends.

Fundraisers by Facebook
Indiegogo
Kickstarter

Indirect Competitors
Strengths

Community-centric due to social media integration

Collects data analytics to show contributions source, visitors and most popular perks

Weaknesses

CTAs are unclear and visuals are not standardized

Crowdfunding platform fees (plus, 3-5% processing fees) based on the total amount raised

Opportunities

Users can forget about pledges due to the length of the campaign - we need to keep them motivated through great storytelling and transparency

User Interviews

We conducted a series of interviews with our targeted user group who are politically and/or socially aware in order to understand their design preferences, wants/needs, and pain points. The image on the left represents users' demographics, political affiliation, and past contributions.

typeface should be used with restraint

Sans serif font was preferred for body paragraphs and CTA’s; stylized & serif fonts can be used for headers.

colors: divisive opinions

Bold colors were seen as enthusiastic and motivating. Muted colors felt serious, established, and trustworthy.

storytelling & Credibility

The ability to tell a compelling story about the product on the homepage and the issue on the campaign page -- has the biggest impact on credibility.

decision-making & Contributions

Leaderboards aren't a motivation to contribute but lend to the campaign's credibility through involvement.

Sprint 1
Divergent Visual Designs

This round showcased divergent visual designs in the form of style tiles (a design deliverable consisting of fonts, colors and interface elements that communicates the evolution of a visual brand) to gauge visual interest and honest reactions to help guide our next direction.

Converging Concepts

4 out of 7 users favored Concept B's light and airy design approach and deemed it: (1) trustworthy and credible, (2) friendly with a sense of belonging, and (3) mission-driven.

During our client meeting, we presented our winning style tiles, user testing takeaways, and conducted a workshop (“I Like, I Wish, What If”) for more insight and clarifications. The stakeholders would also like a cohesive design so, in addition to the campaign page, CrowdLobby was also open to a homepage redesign with new UI elements.

The clients selected to move forward with Concept B and my teammate’s concept (bottom image) to converge and develop the first round of hi-fis which will include a homepage and campaign page redesign.

Style Tile B
Campaign Page Wireframe

The minimal layout above the fold has familiar elements to similar platforms, it has more context which leads to a higher engagement rate along with these complementary elements:

1. Explainer Video

Featuring a video to tell the user story is more effective especially when presented as supplementary or alternative content, not as a replacement for text

2. & 3. Navigation

Secondary and tertiary nav bars are implemented to help breakdown dense info

4. Typeface and weight

Typographic hierarchy establishes an order of importance and helps the user easily navigate through content

5. filmstrip carousel

Enables more than one piece of content to occupy the same piece of prime real estate and breaks up the content into digestible chunks of info

6. Community Leaders

Host and Lobbyist Cards for improved trust, credibility, and easy access to campaign leads

Sprint 2
High Fidelity 01

After gathering style tile feedback from the users, clients, and the team’s convergence workshop, I created an affinity diagram to analyze which elements needed further testing.

A majority of users thought this prototype was "clear, inviting, and simple" enough for the narrative and info presented, but averse to the color palette and typography.

Admittedly, creating a visual aesthetic was the most difficult part of converging two styles.

Homepage
  1. 5/7 users perceived the design as inclusive and accessible but did not like the color palette
Campaign Page
  1. 5/7 users thought the UI elements and visual styling was helpful when communicating dense information
FAQs
  • 4/7 users felt informed about the campaign but not the process of hiring a lobbyist
Updates
  • 5/7 users thought the typography was mismatched
Roadmap
  • 5/7 users like the level of detail shown on the roadmap but not the layout
Leaderboards
  • 5/7 users preferred actionable images and visuals
Sprint 3
High Fidelity 02

For the final round of user testing, iterations were made based on the affinity diagram which organized feedback from the clients, user interviews, and an online visual preference test which solidified my decision to change the color palette to accommodate a variety of UGC (user-generated content) and include CrowdLobby's sky blue.

The client also has a limited budget so I introduced Pablo Stanley's Humaaans, a mix and match illustration library free for commercial and personal use.

*includes the 25 users from the Homepage Visual Preference Test

Homepage
  1. A clear and concise top navigation where the text and icons are bold on hover
  2. The various card types: Video, Campaigns, and a Large Format Media are all interactive on hover and can also be used as large CTAs
  3. 8/32* users prefer this color palette because of the boldness and contrast
  4. 9/32* users like the clean layout and flow which gives the design a clean and modern feel
Campaign Page
  1. Above the fold, a uniform module which can support user-generated content
  2. Faces of the supportive community remain since users felt they connected better to the campaign when they are shown
  3. The quote card is set against a complementary color to show importance which gives the campaign an added benefit of trust and credibility
  4. 5/7 users felt the campaign page was personal and they left pretty informed
  5. 6/7 users thought the layout was legible and organized well
FAQs
  • 6/7 users thought the layout was legible and organized well
Updates
  • 9/32* users perceived the site as a whole as trustworthy and credible
Roadmap
  • The roadmap is broken down by month with teaser info. On hover, more detailed info appears. If more months are needed, a horizontal scroll can be added.
  • 5/7 users find the layout and information presented clear and straightforward
Leaderboards
  • 6/7 users would be comfortable donating to a campaign
Visual Preference Test

Before we began our final round of user interviews, we conducted a homepage visual preference test to see if we've expressed the design principles, ease of use, and aesthetic appeal. We also asked the 25 anonymous users why they chose those concepts and asked to pinpoint elements when possible. With the feedback given, we adjusted our designs before the 1-1 user interviews.

Which design do you prefer?

Concept B (36%)

  1. "It feels more content and utility- driven vs pictures and slogans."
  2. "Bold colors, easy to follow value story"
  3. "I prefer this one because it follows the theme of politics much better than the rest in terms of how professional it feels (because it feels less casual than the rest)."
Which design makes you feel the company is trustworthy and credible?

Concept A (28%)

  1. "It's not overdone or cluttered."
  2. "It looks like it would be easy to navigate through and find the information needed."
  3. "It’s speaking to me directly and sounds like it’s considering my best interest"
Which design looks the easiest to use?

Concept A (36%)

  1. "It’s simply laid out, can clearly see and understand."
  2. "Navigation is centralized and not spread out across the top."
  3. "Clean, buttons have clear CTA and relevant placement."
Concept AConcept BConcept CConcept DConcept E
Concept E
Concept C
Concept D
Concept B
Concept A
User Quotes
Female, Democrat, Age 26-30
"I simply feel like I can relate to it much more. I don’t usually get involved in politics, but this design makes me want to. It doesn’t feel intimidating. It feels cool and inviting."
Female, Democrat, Age 21-25

"More of a feeling that it's not just you interacting with a company that's gonna send a lobbyist for you. It's about a community rallying."

Female, Democrat, Age 26-30

"I love the flowing elements! It makes the site feel on-trend and cool."

Female, Democrat, Age 36-40

"I like the color scheme and the layout design makes it look like important information to pay attention to."

Future Recommendations

After the final round of user testing, peer critiques, and a workshop with the client, I’ve decided to reiterate one final time based on the valuable information gathered from User Testing #3 and CrowdLobby’s values and design principles.

Prioritizing Transparency can lead to more donors

Defining how campaigns work, how user donations are used, who the lobbyists are, and what they do in real-time through explainer videos, how-to copy, campaign updates, media publications, and social proof.

reduce cognitive load for a better user experience

Give users a straight path to accomplish their donation or hosting goals by reducing confusing interface, navigation, and options.

motivate users to host a campaign

Seeing how fruitful it is to be part of the change with an experienced political ally, users can go beyond the leaderboards and host a campaign of their own. Most users were unaware of this option and only thought to share or donate to campaigns.

The psychology of colors

Despite aiming for bipartisan or nonpartisanship, the stakeholders and users still gravitated to the blues and grays and found orange-based red tones to be less right-leaning as opposed to true reds. Playing with monochromatic hues also made the brand feel more established and helped streamline the design.

the gamification of Leaderboards

While most of the users understood the motivation behind leaderboards, some questioned its necessity as a dedicated tab as it gamifies causes. Regardless of the stakeholders' decision to keep this feature or not, I've added a unique URL with the contributor’s name instead of a randomly generated link for personalization and added trust, which can be transferred to a profile page, if need be.

Final Thoughts

Finding a middle ground to offer solutions that appease both the stakeholders and users is not an easy task but delivering the users data from interviews and visual preference tests gave the stakeholders a better understanding of their current and potential users. Having said that, instead of focusing on Targeted User Types, we should have developed personas so that decision making is easier and the resulting product is more focused. For example, the three mood boards and style tiles created were tailored specifically for each targeted user type instead of the attributes, desires, and behaviors of a defined persona could have helped us prioritize features and focus so our interface behaved more consistently.

If you'd like to discuss this project or want to collaborate on something similar, feel free to contact me at charm.bitanga@gmail.com.

View Prototype

Prototype Walkthrough