Inform. Emoji. Engage.
This was a Citizen Interaction Design project in which our team partnered with the City of Ferndale to help improve their communication on new developments happening in Ferndale downtown. Our deliverables include postcards, a comment form, and a series of webpages which are currently live.
My team members were Brook Sinclair and Priya Bayisetti, with lots of help from Citizen Interaction Design's Scott Tennbrink and our Ferndale partner Justin Lyons.
Usability testing, Guerrilla/Man on street Interviewing, Mockups and Design.
In general, residents feel very well informed, but we’ve heard some people say that “I didn’t see a letter from the City,” or that “I don’t care about this project,” or just “I don’t have time to attend public meetings.” On the city side, we’ve heard that “People give us feedback after it is too late.”
Our group sees this as an opportunity to provide a lower barrier way to get better feedback. Our strategy is Inform, Emoji, Engage.
A postcard replaces the letter and quickly informs people that the new development project might have these impacts on something they care about. A timeline makes it clear what has already been decided in the past and what is still on the table for discussion so residents can leave timely and useful feedback.
The postcard has 14-point font so that senior and vision impaired residents can still read. It directs residents to the webpage for more information.
The webpage has more detailed information but its timeline is in a similar format with the postcard. A beta version of the webpage can be found here.
Information on this page is relatable, jargon free, and tells the story of the development project.
We have also made an online form where residents can write a comment or select an emoji indicating how they feel about the project in a hip and cool but still official way.
This feedback will be integrated into the public hearings, so that people who can’t attend will still be able to engage and have an impact.
What are the problems we should tackle?
What does the city expect?
What is already done in communication?
We found that the city is already reaching out to residents on many and diverse platforms in a number of ways, but may want a step-by-step approach.
City has a hip vibe and residents do not want to be Royal Oak. Many use Facebook.
How are residents being reached? On what platform? How frequently?
What information do they want?
Do residents communicate back with the city? Why or why not?
Residents feel well informed.
Some do see and read the letters.
They don’t attend public hearings because they don’t have time.
Some get information from their network, not just in official ways or from social media.
Guerilla/ Person on the street interview
Same with residents interview, but aiming for more people from a less invested population.
Residents still feel well informed.
Some don’t see the letter.
Most don’t communicate back to the city, and trust the city to do the right thing.
Font size is too small for seniors.
Gaining expertise on city’s development process, and on what would be relevant for the populations that are vulnerable to development.
Producing prototypes for user testing.
Producing guidelines for future city communication.
People would appreciate “luxury housing” as honest description.
What would residents do when they encounter the new postcard & webpage?
What would be lost when switching from letter to postcard?
What information is relevant to residents?
Residents unanimously like the emojis & would fill out survey.
They are able to immediately understand the postcard information.
They do not spot the webpage address on the postcard at first.
Most prefer the postcard.
All are concerned about housing & housing prices. Many care about the environment & employment.