Image for Civics app - a conceptual overview

Civics app - a conceptual overview

In the last blog post I wrote that I have a goal to make people feel important in the political space. The target audience is people who have felt left out of the political processes. A main barrier to entry into the political space has been the (somewhat) convoluted way experts talk about policies or otherwise communicate politics.

I think it could be important to focus on continuity while keeping the complexity down. With complexity comes a greater need to be precise in the language, which brings jargon. We don’t need that, hopefully. I think I can get thematic continuity going, where a theme is picked (either randomly or a theme is chosen to coincide with some event) and every subsection of the view will be within that theme. Before going into what the themes might be I think it would be better to talk about the conceptual subsections.

I imagine there to be at least 4 subsections that go with a particular theme.

  • Reflection is the subsection where a person can reflect upon how their values relates to a theme. Maybe there is a benefit to themselves, or maybe the benefits goes somewhere else. Do they think it would be relevant to support issues where benefits don’t go to themselves?

  • Policy in focus is where a particular policy is summarised in a few words what it is set up to accomplish. This could be paired with what values are reflected in it and how the votes were cast.

  • Institution in focus is where a particular institution is characterized. It could be about a department, administrative authority, municipality etc and what their mission is and how they are governed.

  • From the archives is where an example from previous policies is described in how it was implemented and perhaps how it affected individuals. This could be expanded with portraits about how an individual in particular could be affected.

Themes that could be covered are trade, energy, health, safety, etc, which will be an umbrella for all the subsections. If a theme is changed then the subsections are to be updated accordingly.

I think it’s important to have a human perspective on this. If civics just becomes abstract with a prognosis over percentages of employment it could be hard to relate to, but with a human face on it the abstractions are brought back into something substantial.

I also believe that it could be of interest to see where we are in the political calendar; how far are we away from the next election? In Sweden we have national elections every fourth year. It coincides with elections to regional and municipal councils. Another great election is to the European Parliament which is held every fifth year. There’s also elections to the Sami Parliament held every fourth year, but this is not as large as the others since only Sami are allowed to vote.

This has been a conceptual overview as it presently stands. It has not represented any UI considerations, and the only UX consideration so far is how to keep it simple by continuity through themes. I think another important consideration is how foreign or how sceptical my potential users might be to anything political. For this reason I think it’s important that as much as possible is done to be fair in the picturing of policies. On another note I also think it’s important that people don’t have to sign up to get to have a nice user experience. This reduces complexity to get started with the app as well as it addresses any concerns with what I would do with user data. There may be features further on that could need a user login, but the core of the app should be free of it.

What’s next is to sketch up a UI, a backend and an admin area. I think the process of doing that will also illuminate any weaknesses and limitations of the concepts.