UI & UX design
Building a digital pathway between local council and the community.
At a glance
Pōneke Pins was created with two other students as part of a university project to tackle the issue of low voter turnout in local elections. It’s a mobile app designed to encourage people to engage with local council services. Users can report and pin issues relating to council responsibilities to a map of Wellington.
  • 3 weeks (Jan-Feb 2023)
  • University project
  • Team: 3 students
  • Desk research
  • Concept development
  • User flow
  • UI design & prototyping
The problem
Local government is important in our day-to-day lives, but every election fewer and fewer people vote.
One reason people don’t vote is because they are apathetic towards local governments. Many people don’t understand the role local governments have in their daily lives.

As this is a big problem, instead of trying to directly solve it, we thought about how we could create a run-on effect.
The challenge:
How might we make people in Wellington more aware of the impact that local government has on their day-to-day lives?
The solution
Pōneke Pins allows people to collectively hold council to account and gives the opportunity to council to respond to that by implementing change and showing progress. If people are seeing that change is being made in areas that affect them, they are less likely to be disenfranchised by the local body process, and perhaps be more motivated to vote.
Report an issue
  • Tapping the map to pin an issue
  • Read and learn about the issue categories
  • Get notified when change is being made in areas that affect you
  • Contribute to creating a better city
View other issues reported
  • See updates from the local government
  • Comments section facilitates engagement and community building
  • Collectively hold local government accountable
Early concept: QR Sticker
One of our early concepts involved having QR stickers on everything that the council was responsible for to increase awareness. The QR codes would allow people to quickly report an issue with the service.
We were reluctant to go through with this idea because:
  • It would’ve created more plastic waste
  • It would be easy to miss
  • Its purpose could be ambiguous to some
Refined concept: Pins
‍Instead, we honed in on the idea of reporting an issue to the council, and outlined some problems with the current system:
  • It’s hard to figure out what the council is doing to fix current issues
  • You don't know if an issue has already been reported
  • The FixIt app is confusing to use and has no feedback; once you submit an issue it ‘disappears’
We eventually came to the idea of pinning an issue to an interactive map. We knew that it would be hard to make people care about the council in a positive way, so this solution allows users to express their frustrations and encourages engagement that will ultimately create positive change.
Site map
While planning the app, we chose to spend our limited time focusing on two important flows as highlighted in the diagram below, creating a pin and viewing a pin. These are the main ways users will be interacting with the app.
Quantitative research
One of my teammates designed a short survey to find out what issues people encounter most regularly and would like to report to decide on the pin categories for our app. The survey gave us these nine categories:
  • Rubbish
  • Streetlights
  • Graffiti
  • Pipes
  • Road & Transport
  • Public Toilets
  • Recreational Space
  • Trails & Greenery
  • Other
Card sort
We also wanted users to be able to quickly associate similar pins using a colour coding system. We designed a card sort to investigate what associations people had between areas of council jurisdiction and colours, to see if there was any pattern.

While the results were too varied to be considered, we still saw the value of doing bite-size testing to help with the decision-making process.
Testing + improvements
To test how our chosen task flows could be improved, myself and one other teammate designed a low-fidelity figma prototype. My teammates conducted usability tests with five eligible voters living in Wellington. Using the findings from our tests, we iterated our design to then create a hi-fidelity prototype.
Major improvements
Addition of progress status
  • Participants wanted more transparency and accountability
  • Status indicators added to signal to users what the current state of the issue is
Addition of council updates
  • Participants wanted to know the specific actions the council was taking
  • Council updates section facilitates two-way communication
Added examples
  • Participants weren’t always sure what issues fall under which categories
  • Added a page with examples to help with the reporting process
The final product
Creating a pin
Viewing a pin
Key takeaways
Right-size the project
Spending a bit of time upfront to plan the process makes designing a breeze. Understanding how much you can get done in a limited time frame is an important skill. If you are tight for time, there is great value in the small bits of research that you do.
The power of a great team
Being comfortable around your team means you can offer and take constructive criticism smoothly. Being open about your own strengths and weaknesses can help strengthen relationships and ultimately create a better design.
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