Democracy and Design: Answering Voters’ Questions

How well do counties answer voters’ questions about upcoming elections? Assuming that one source of election information might be local, we catalogued 147 county websites, and then conducted a large-scale, distributed usability test with voters from across the U.S. We looked at what local elections jurisdictions were offering for web content in 2012, what terms they used to describe it, and how useful and usable that content was to voters.

Dana Chisnell

United States Digital Service


Dana Chisnell is an elections geek and a UX research nerd (her words) who has trained thousands of people, including government workers, to test their designs. But what she really loves is giving design literacy to the world. She’s the lead on a project to develop a series of Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent. The Field Guides, originally funded by a Kickstarter project, are designed to be quick, easy, accessible help for American election officials to do the best possible design. She won 2 MacArthur grants to expand the Field Guides Series. She wrote Handbook of Usability Testing, Second Edition with Jeff Rubin. She’s a co-founder of the Center for Civic Design with Whitney Quesenbery, which has loaned her to the United States Digital Service.