Decidim.Barcelona platform is a participatory democracy tool that allows the citizens of Barcelona to participate in the future of their City, by voting on initiatives related to the city or proposing new ones.
Decidim.Barcelona is considered by the Barcelona City Council as its key open-source project, but citizen participation is still not very numerous.
The objective of this Practice is to redesign the process of citizen participation proposed in Decidim.Barcelona, to enable a more numerous and quality participation, and promote interaction in context.
The project will focus on Senior users (the specific requirements and needs of this group of users must be taken into account). The solution must be a graphical user interface, it must consist of a web or app, and an interaction application in context.
Metadecidim, the community that has developed and maintains Decidim.Barcelona, will collaborate in the project, providing information and feedback that helps guide the project.
Project in the frame of ELISAVA's Design for City Making, a platform for design initiatives promoted by Elisava in collaboration with different agents and institutions. Each project presented is an autonomous contribution to the process of social construction of the city ('city making').
We started our work with a wide ranged desk research. We divided into teams with a focus on different topics. Then we collected all the insights from the different groups and created an overview with system mapping. Afterwards, this helped us to create a user journey, personas and definde requirements around our main insights.
Errors mapping and requirements
When considering what requirements our platform should have, we studied Jakob Nielsen's 10 Usability Principles, and we emphasized those that we believe are especially necessary when working with seniors. To these requirements we have added other observations that we found on the decidim platform.
1. Visibility of system status
One does not know if he participated correctly, if he has been sent correctly or not, to follow the cause, to have more news, to see the activity of other users, etc. There is a lack of feedback and more interactivity to feel really connected with the platform.
2. Relationship between system and the real world
We have to connect with the user, “speak” the user's language with words or phrases that are familiar to him and that he can easily recognize, such as clear images, information in logical order, “análogue” images and icons. (delete = paper bin). This is difficult on the Decidim platform since there are icons that are a bit abstract, such as call, proposal, assembly, etc.
3. User control and freedom
The user is free to navigate the site the way he wants, and he can always click without fear of breaking the steps of the platform. Your profile can be configured to regulate your privacy and notification control, etc.
4. Consistency and standards
That the elements have rules or certain norms to follow, and remain consistent throughout the platform. For example, that they are in the optimal place, that allows the user to remember where he is, that the graphic layer looks unified. Make use of color for predefined functions, for example, we associate the green or blue buttons to accept something, and the red buttons to cancel, or to highlight something, an alert.
5. Minimalist design and aesthetics
The platform should not be overloaded with information, especially if we are talking about an app, since the website is the one that can contain all the longest and most tedious information, while the app focuses more on usability and value propositions.
It is important, especially for senior users, not to fill them with options and buttons so that they do not get confused, it must be simple, minimalist, it must breathe visually to emphasize what is important.
6. Simplified language
The age of the user must be taken into account, thus simplifying the specific language and avoiding foreign words.
For the user, it is very important to feel constantly informed of what is happening in the city, therefore, resources such as podcasts can be very useful, since they can listen to them whenever they want.
10. Help and documentation
The app should be super intuitive and easy to use. since it is intended that the user does not require help to be able to navigate or use an application, but still, we always have to give the user the possibility of having a small operating manual (FAQ, minitour, etc).
Our concept is to increase interaction in Decidim by improving transparency in 3 different areas:
1. Visibility of events and initiatives around you
How: The map is the central part of the app, it shows the location of the project. You can filter by area and according to categories of your interest. "What is happening around me?"
Value: See what is happening in your neighborhood, and find projects in a more personalized way.
2. Project status visibility
How: Charts to show trend and popularity over time. Better use of process phases.
Value: General view of the level of participation, motivation, to carry out projects. Better understanding of the process.
3. Visibility of members and groups
How: The projects show the active members and recognize their work as collaborators. Groups and messages need to be more accessible to connect neighbors.
Value: People feel part of a whole, something bigger. They form a community, they are more connected. People take action for their neighborhood, they know each other.
For the first checkpoint at the Cannodrum BCN (Athenaeum of Digital and Democratic Innovation), we presented our first prototype of what would be the new version of Decidim Barcelona.
Here we presented the concepts we wanted to propose for the platform. The feedback from the client was key to being able to arrive at a good design later, since most of the initial elements served as a medium fidelity wireframes and allowed us to design quickly in the last phase.
For the onboarding process and even previous to signing up on the platform, you have access to an explaining video about what is Decidim and what you can do with your community.
The map is the central piece of the App: What is there to do around me? What is being proposed in my neighborhood? How does it affect me?
You can filter the proposals and events by categories, and see them in the calendar.
You can choose to participate by voting for projects, creating a new one or attending an event. Interaction with people behind events and proposals happen via chat and debates.
The flow of creating a new proposal has also been simplified and converted into a 3 steps process in order to have sense of progress while creating, without exhausting the user. You must describe the proposal, cathegorize it, asign it to a certain location and range of infrastructure required. You can also add pictures and files in order to make the project more attractive and better explained. In the final step, you can add collaborators and invite people to follow this project.
Since we were working with seniors users, the platform has an accessibility dialog for them to set the app according to their needs (turning on the dark mode for more contrast, changing typography and its size, etc).
Working with a project like Decidim.barcelona was definitely a great opportunity: a project with the capacity to impact society, and that affects on a large scale. It was also perfect for learning new research methodologies and user centered design tools.
In the checkpoints that we had with the people of the city council, we received very positive feedback, which motivated us to continue working on this project, which we are very fond of and believe to be fundamental for a democratic society of the future.
We are deeply grateful to our guides and advisors, who were fundamental in carrying out the project, and without whose comments, we would not have been able to reach the result obtained.
You can read more about the project here: Decidim.Barcelona