People Powered needed a partner to create an accessible and user-friendly interactive online guide for planning participatory democracy programs.
The free public tool would guide users through planning and design questions, choices, and considerations, to enable them to choose models and approaches that worked for their context and needs.
Problems the tool would address:
● It is difficult for advocates and policymakers to find accessible and relevant practical guidance for how to launch and improve participatory democracy programs, especially in the Global South.
● The quality of participatory democracy programs varies widely, with many programs failing to address common challenges or deliver equitable outcomes.
2021 - 2023
Balsamiq, Scapple, Miro, Sketch, Survicate, Lighthouse, HeadingsMap.
Noel Rivas (IA, Systems architecture, Dev) , Josué Martín (Frontend), Tocho Macías (UI Designer).
The first step of the process was a strategy and content architecture workshop which uncovered other needs not described in their project charter.
At Matrushka we developed a process for these kinds of workshops with non profits. We would share guides (see above screenshots) to prepare for the Zoom sessions and to gather materials to share with us as assets for the content architecture of the website.
I had seen an amazing talk by Eileen Webb at CONFAB about ice breakers and authentic relationships in projects, so we're all grinning on the picture above because I asked everyone to introduce themselves and answer the question: "What is your favorite board game?" along with the typical: name, pronouns and what your role on the project is.
With the information from the workshop I created an audiences and goals document; and designed a simplified sitemap and digital wireframes.
Wizards, witches and covens.
Originally, the Participation Playbook was described as a single wizard to guide practitioners and a set of information pages to accompany the project.
We realized after discovery that we needed more than one wizard and perhaps we could be inclusive and dub some of them witches. Therefore we actually had a coven.
To socialize this knowledge with everyone involved, I made diagrams of the anatomy of each component as well as one of how the coven would actually work.
I also held a meeting with the experts hired to develop content to introduce them to Drupal, explain the content flow, user journey and decide together with the People Powered staff on the governance of each.
The Drupal training included explanations about conditional logic and Twig code.
Visual story and gamification
One of the goals of the Playbook was to build excitement, motivation and confidence for implementing participatory democracy programs. With that in mind, along with the attributes discovered on the Art Direction phase of the project, I set out to do research about gamification and craft a story of how the visuals would accomplish it. I took inspiration on board games as well.
I collaborated with our designer to bring that story to life in the user interface. We decided to use the humaaans illustrations library by Pablo Stanley as base.
Content management and translation
Coordinating with the team of experts, the staff and the data entry personnel has been an important challenge. Also, receiving translations to Spanish, Portuguese and French.
After each round, I would supervise and do quality assurance of the wizards; specially to make sure the twig code logic and conditionals were displaying correctly.
Communication and reinforce training has been key to the successful uploading of content. At this moment (April 2023) the Playbook contains one needs assessment wizard; 8 keystone wizards for four different processes, each with a variant to address climate democracy; and more than 40 component wizards. All of them available in 4 languages.
Testing, iteration and improvements
The Participation Playbook had a soft launch on July 2022 with a group of practitioners selected for the Climate Democracy Action program. All practitioners were accompanied by a mentor.
Both the mentors and practitioners gathered feedback on the tool after usage. With it, we set out to do improvements on several fronts: content, interface interaction and design, development. We are currently finishing up those improvements for the tool to have the public launch on September 2023.
I'm in charge of the following improvements:
● Design and launch a usability survey using the Survicate widget.
● Create a Content Style Guide for future editors, so that they can consult it while performing data entry and follow the same parameters.
● Quality assurance of all development improvements.
● Additional content training workshops to address content improvements that can be done with the current software but were not part of the original scope of the project.