The Alliance for Youth Action —a youth-driven social justice-loving national non-profit — is looking to upgrade the digital and design tools for its voter guide program. We are seeking a consultant to :
- Recommend new approaches to our print and digital voter guide system;
- Design updated voter guide print templates;
- If recommended, design and build a digital tool to enable us to produce voter guides at scale.
Since 2014, the Alliance for Youth Action has provided a common template for a “voter guide” to our state-based partner organizations. These voter guides are meant to be easy-to-read materials that educate young voters about candidates or ballot initiatives in their local upcoming elections. The guides have historically been distributed at events, through door-knocking campaigns, as inserts in publications, and via direct mail.
In 2016, the Alliance worked with a tech consultant volunteer who created an online tool, (referred to as “the Generator”) designed to allow users to input text specific to their local context into predetermined fields. The tool translates this text onto a semi-customizable voter guide design, in which users could change color schemes, insert pictures in designated planes, and select candidate or ballot measure comparison panels. The tool then produces a PDF of the guide to be sent to a print shop. The generator also produced a static digital image to be shared online.
This approach helped to reduce our staff’s burden in supporting this program, but came with challenges:
- The generated template allowed for limited customization and entry fields for text and information, which can pose challenging if users wanted to add additional context or information.
- The final PDF is not fully print ready (ie: does not include bleed lines).
- The generator also created a “digital” version of the voter guide, but it is not visually appealing and was not designed to be mobile-first.
- Program bugs necessitated the consultant to make changes and modifications each cycle.
Moreover, the visual design of the existing voter guide is now out of date and does not speak compellingly to the culture and style of the young voters we seek to engage.
Upon reevaluation of the voter guide program and input from the users in the Alliance network, it is clear that a new approach to the voter guide is needed.
As we consider revamping the tools of our voter guide program, we want to step all the way back and make sure we are using our resources wisely to best support our network.
SCOPE OF WORK
We are looking for an individual or small team to:
- Work with the Alliance and network partners to assess our existing approach and make a recommendation for a more user-friendly and sustainable solution. This should include:
- A technical recommendation for how to support a voter guide development at scale (ie: a new approach to the generator, etc.)
- A recommendation on how to approach a digital voter guide platform (ie: should we build one ourselves vs. pay for an existing tool)
- Design new print voter guide templates, informed by user feedback.
- Build a new generator or alternative tool, if in line with recommendations.
KEY QUESTIONS WE WANT TO ANSWER:
➔ How do we do this at scale?
- How can we best support our users (ie: the staff of our local users) in engaging young people with voter guides without adding unnecessary burden to the Alliance staff?
- Is a digital-based “generator” the best solution for enabling local partners to create their own voter guides?
- Is there a more effective way to create multiple customized guides that minimize the level of staff involvement and required knowledge of graphic design?
➔ How should we approach a digital voter guide?
- Should we build our own digital voter guide platform for our network that is specifically aimed at young voters? What would it cost to do this?
- Should we pay for an existing digital voter guide tool? Pros and cons?
➔ Design the next generation of print voter guides
- What kind of visual and information design will help us best reach young voters?
- What kinds of content should be customizable vs. uniform?
WE’RE LOOKING FOR EXPERTISE IN:
➔ Graphic and information design for print and digital products — bonus if in the context of political or social justice material;
➔ User experience design, usability testing and human-centered design approaches;
➔ Digital product development (ie: software and web development);
➔ Familiarity with voter engagement, elections, and campaigns preferred.
We are especially excited to collaborate with people and teams who share our values for inclusive, social justice work and those who have experience working with nonprofits and/or folks with limited technical capacities.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US
The Alliance for Youth Action supports and scales the work of local organizations, building a movement of young people, by young people, and for all people.
The Alliance envisions a new era of locally-led democracy with inclusive processes and equitable outcomes, where young people can engage in democracy as voters, organizers, and leaders, making the world more just, more sustainable, and more awesome.
The Alliance for Youth Action is a 501c4 organization and has a sister 501c3 organization, the Alliance for Youth Organizing.
VOTER GUIDE PROGRAM GOALS
Our organization has worked consistently to make politics more approachable and inclusive. The overall goal of the guides is to provide a trusted source of information about elections to young people from a trusted local organization. The voter guides provide young voters an easy to read and clear guide to candidates – including a short bio, list of supporters, and yes/no issues stances. Our guides also provide information on how, where, and when to vote as well as information about the distributing organization.
The audience for our voter guides and pledge cards are primarily young people between the ages of 18-34, with a heavy focus on 18-24 subgroup. The majority of these guides will be targeted to college communities.
- Technical recommendations for how to support a voter guide development at scale (ie: anew approach to the generator, priority design needs for new guide template);
- Design of updated print voter guide templates, informed by user input;
- Design and development of a new generator or alternative tool, if recommended;
- Recommendation and guidance on a digital voter guide strategy (ie: to build internally vs. pay for existing platform).
Phase 1: Project Discovery // July 2019
- Kick off meeting(s) with Alliance/network partners to identify goals, needs, feedback, technical considerations, project process, etc.
- Gather key user and system needs
- Summary/recap of key user and system needs
- Presentation of new system recommendation(s)/options, digital voter guide recommendation and proposal for next phases of project
Phase 2: Prototype + Test // July-Aug 2019
- 2 – 3 drafts of updated print voter guide designs
- Usability testing of print design with Alliance network users
Phase 3: Design + Build // completed by September 15th 2019
- Final visual design of voter guide templates
- Development of voter guide generator system or equivalent alternative system, if recommended
As listed in the summary, we have budgeted $25,000 for this project. While we prefer the most cost-effective solution, all proposals that fall reasonably near this range will be considered and weighed based on their merits. *
PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
➔ Overview of your practice (organization, company, independent work, etc.), including a brief introduction to you/your team.
➔ Overview of how you would approach addressing the needs outlined in this RFP.
➔ Proposed budget for each phase of this project*
➔ Portfolio of at least 3-5 examples of similar projects that demonstrate your graphic design, UX and technical capacities.
Because of the open ended nature of this project, we understand that what we decide from this discovery process will shape the staffing needs and costs for Phases 2 and 3. We ask that you share a budget proposal for Phase 1 but feel free to propose ranges for the second two phases to be decided upon at the end of Phase 1.