This past weekend, Data Design Co_ partnered with the good folks over at January Advisors for an experiment in public opinion polling. This fall we will elect a new mayor in Houston, and historically, voter turnout has been extremely low (in the 13-14% range). This felt like a good time to hit the ground running and do something about those statistics. To help gather some data about issues that matter to the citizens of Houston, we designed and built a portable ballot box and set up at various locations around the city to do some polling.
The first step in any prototyping process is to scope out the problem to understand the various constraints and criteria for selecting a design. In this case, we needed a portable system that allowed users to vote for one of up to 5 answer choices. The solution should be easy to use and explain, since repeating the instructions for each of the hundreds of people taking the poll would be both tedious and time-consuming.
After sketching out a few ideas from the brainstorming session, we decided build a quick, low-fidelity model in order to test the proportions and size of the object. For us, this medium was cardboard and masking tape.
From there, we used the dimensions of the cardboard model to build a laser cut wooden prototype using Adobe Illustrator and a website tool called BoxMaker which helps to develop the basic template for a laser cut box.
After using the laser cut box for a little while, we realized that one of the things we liked about the cardboard model was the way that the top slanted towards the slot which made it easier to cast a vote. With that in mind, we redesigned the box with a slanted lid.
Finally, we stained the box with a few coats of Shellac and glued the finger joints together to ensure a tight fit.