Los Angeles--Congressman Xavier Becerra

After calling California's 34rd district office, I was pleasantly surprised by a kind staff member and then left again with a rabbit trail to follow. 

Explaining how and why I wanted to participate in the 34rd district: 30 seconds

Hearing how I could find out how I could achieve the level of participation (simply knowing about any bill, hearing, or ANYthing the Congressman was working on):  never happened

I was told I could look at the house website, and then I was guided to https://www.democraticwhip.gov/index.php?q=calendar, which was disappointing because it showed active voting, but not WHAT they were voting on or if Congressman Becerra would be there, much less how he was planning to vote. 

I ended the call with the polite staffer with the consensus that my goals (as stated above) were virtually impossible to accomplish as a theoretical constituent. She, a staffer in his office, didn't even know what he was working on. 

Day 2 and I'm glad that my company and our app has completely solved this problem, I knew it was needed...but it is REALLY needed. Everywhere. 

San Diego--Congressman Scott Peters

So my 30 day tour began with our friends in San Diego. I called Congressman Scott Peters office and explained what I needed--what is he voting on next? what is he involved in next? How can I participate BEFORE the vote, BEFORE the hearing?

After being placed on a brief hold, I was told that I could call back on Thursday or Friday, and they would have that information. The schedule would not be released for the following week until the Thursday of Friday beforehand. 

Hmm. I went to www.congress.gov and saw several events on the schedule. The question then becomes, will Congressman Peters be there? What committees is he on or what hearings will he attend? 

I browsed around for a few minutes and then stopped because a few minutes is more than most people would spend. The information wasn't clear: Congressman Peters will be voting on XYZ on these dates, he will be attending these hearings, and he is working on these bills--give us your thoughts. None of that. 

 

30 days 30 cities 30 members of Congress

Upon founding VoteRockIt, I had spent my adult life in politics--both professionally and through volunteer work. When my co-founder Matt, and I linked up, we were determined to bridge the gap of critical information between the electorate and those running for office or in office...and vice versa. 

So, for the next 30 days, I'm going to focus on the the value add VoteRockIt would provide for the electorate--for the American public. What are our elected officials doing? We know AFTER the votes, we can see a list after the fact, but getting pertinent information to voice our opinion on bills before votes are cast is hard to come by...and it shouldn't be. 

I'm going to go coast to coast, finding out how to get this information right now, if it is accessible at all, how long it takes, and then letting you know one way to voice your opinion if you are in that city.

Although VoteRockIt supports candidates and elected officials ranging from city counsel to Presidents, for the sake of continuity, I will focus on members of Congress.

I will start with San Diego. Let me know if you want me to use your city along the way.

 

 

 

Where to reach your audience? On the device they are most likely to have with them.

Increasingly, your audience is both reachable and expects to be reached. If you want to send information in real time about an event, don't count of them to come to your website. If you want people to get involved, go to THEM, don't wait for them to come to your website. Make activism easy, accessible, and where users are--on their smart phones.

Follow the arrow to see how active your country on mobiles on the world scene. 

Infographic: Always Connected? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

 

 

 

 

Fox News National Radio Tour

I joined a few of you on your local Fox News Radio Stations, discussing the news of the day as well as the role of technology in the 2016 elections. For so many, those aspiring to become politically active have to main points of tension:

1. I want to know more and be more active, but I don't know where to start

2. I want to know more and be more active, but I don't have the time to figure out how to get involved

VoteRockIt solves both of these problems. When a candidate has our app, they talk to you. They tell you how to get involved, they tell you where to go, and they tell you how to make a difference. If you are on the fence or wanting to know more about the points of difference between candidates, they can explain points of contrast. The days of only knowing one minute sound bites about a candidate are over. What does candidate X think about breaking news? Now, you can know in real time through push notifications. Think it is a good position or point? Share that notification with everyone in your social media circle of influence.

When we created VoteRockIt, we created it to break down the barriers hindering grass root involvement, information, and direct communication with those wanting your vote or those who are representing you. The line of communication needs to be direct, and now it is. 

The cities I spoke with seemed to agree, we hope you do to--we hope you get involved and we hope your elected official or candidate will use our app to communicate directly with YOU. 

 

 

 

Technology in Politics

When it comes to campaigning, the American political process has changed very little – if at all – in more than two centuries.  Most often, the candidate who makes the best use of available technology comes out on top after the votes are counted.

To win, a candidate must build a connection with voters by conveying their message, building grassroots support, recruiting volunteers, requesting financial contributions and, most importantly, getting voters to get to the polls on Election Day to cast their vote.  While not altering the process, the internet and social media – such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube – have dynamically increased the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of performing these tasks.  

Statistic: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Find more statistics at Statista

The first politicians to successfully utilize modern technology, Franklin D. Roosevelt broadcast his radio series of “fireside chats” to the masses in an instant.  John F. Kennedy was the first to capitalize politically from television by relying on his confidence, youthful good-looks, beautiful family, and articulate oratory to win over American voters.  Additionally, Ronald Reagan was the first to use satellite technology to transmit live and prerecorded messages to campaign rallies and fundraisers all over the nation.

More recently, the internet is unquestionably the most dominant technological advancement in the way we communicate and interact.  Throughout both of his presidential campaigns, Barack Obama’s campaign was the most successful at using the internet and social media to connect with voters – especially young voters who are becoming an increasingly influential voting bloc.

Today, the internet is more influential than ever.  Increasingly, Americans are turning to smartphones which allow access to the internet not only at home or work, but almost everywhere and at any time.  According to Statista.com, eleven percent of all adults check their smartphone “every few minutes” while forty-one percent check it “a few times an hour.”

Infographic: America's Growing Smartphone Addiction | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

From FDR to Obama, history has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of utilizing technology to campaign and relay information.  As more and more Americans rely on smartphones for the majority of their internet usage, political victory will be nearly impossible without first building a digital campaign that resonates with our current app-addicted society.

Creating an Effective Social Media Campaign

Spreading a message to the masses is nothing new. From fliers on church doors spread by Martin Luther centuries ago has given rise to spreading messages via a handheld supercomputer. An effective social media campaign takes more than posting a few articles with the hope that someone pays attention to your content. Rather, successful campaigns move forward with a specific goal in mind. Here are some considerations when running your own goal oriented social media campaign:

Unique Message

With tens of thousands of social media campaigns to compete with, it can be daunting to get yours to stand apart from the rest. It is extremely important that your message isn’t bland. Social media users are exposed to so many campaigns that, unless you have content that speaks to them, they are likely to bounce from your page. To create a unique message:

  • Pretend that you are the user. What motivates you to engage in one campaign over another?
  • Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, does my campaign have moxy?
  • Find campaigns of similar candidates to find inspiration.

Be Organized

It is important to have a plan when running a social media campaign. Even pledging to post once a day is a good start. The key is consistency. Keeping organized means:

  • Preparing social media posts in advance (Use a tool like Buffer to queue posts).
  • Keeping to a strict timetable.
  • Delegating tasks to your team (Use UpWork or Fiverr to find distributed workers to do the legwork).

Understand the Nuances of Digital Media

Digital media can be confusing to the uninitiated. Unlike traditional media that is based on a model of message sent to receiver without feedback; digital media allows the audience to share and respond. Users can write comments and share posts which allow campaigns to see the impact of the campaign for good or ill.

  • Take the time to study articles on digital media at length.
  • Find a mentor who can guide you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Run a Synergistic Campaign

Creating a superior social media campaign takes the best of digital media tools and combines them with traditional methods. Effective campaigns use multiple approaches to reach their audience. For example, consider posting articles with embedded videos to maximize the value of online based campaign work.

  • Examine posts that combine multiple media to see what garners the most comments.
  • Experiment to find the best approach for your campaign (Use a tool like Optimizely for A/B testing of your message).
  • Take advantage of the free tools that make synergy possible (Tools HubSpot, Pardot, IFTT, and HootSuite can help automate your messaging).

Helpful Links

An Exploration of Case Studies on the Political Use of Social Media

Since the beginning of time, calls for social action have paved the way for communities to come together for change. The mode of communication for thousands of years was by word of mouth from person-to-person which severely limited how quickly news could spread. It wasn’t until the rise of the telegraph that messages could suddenly reach someone on the other side of the country in minutes. Citizen-led political movements are not uncommon, but social media has allowed grassroots movements to organize and mobilize at the click of a mouse.  Numerous studies have explored the relationship between social media and political action. Here are a few examples:

 

 

egypt

 

 

The Role of Social Media in Political Mobilisation: a Case Study of the January 2011 Egyptian Uprising by Madeline Storck

This particular study explored the impact that Facebook and Twitter had on the successful Egyptian Uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from the Egyptian Presidency on February 11, 2011 after decades of ruling Egypt as a military dictator. The Middle East has long been a region where civilians have had difficulty in organizing political change on the ground outside of a ruling minority. Although there had been opposition to Mubarak’s reign from the first days that he took power on October 11, 1981 it wasn’t until the rise of social media that members of the opposition had the ability to communicate without having to worry about a police crackdown on their meetings.

Storck explains that people in Egypt had long felt disenfranchised, but that it wasn’t until the opposition started a group called The people want the fall of the regime that everyday people (who wouldn’t normally be the kind to protest) joined the thousands at Tahrir Square. Although the government would attempt to block access to social media, the masses had already organized. Although social media helps people organize, there had been political movements long before Facebook. Facebook and Twitter are merely new tools to connect people to a common goal.

 

obama

 

Political Fandom in the Age of Social Media: Case Study of Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign by Komal H. Parikh

This study explored how President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign used social media effectively to rally young voters around progressive ideas resulting in a Obama victory. 66 percent of the 23 million voters aged 18-29 voted for Obama in the 2008 election. Although social media had been in its infancy during the 2000 and 2004 elections, it wasn’t until 2008 that social media (i.e. Facebook) existed in the form that we enjoy today. While older demographics consistently vote year after year, younger voters have a habit of not bothering to cast their votes despite being just as opinionated as anyone else in the community.

Parikh explains that voters who were interviewed during the course of her study felt especially receptive to the Obama campaign’s decision to utilize social media to connect with voters who enjoyed having the ability to share campaign information with their friends through a form of viral marketing. Just as John F. Kennedy understood that looking good on television was essential to winning in 1960, so too did Obama when it came to using the Internet to his advantage. As Election 2016 goes into full swing, candidates now understand that social media is an effective way to rally supporters on the grassroots level.

 

socialmedia

 

 

Social Media for Social Change: A Case Study of Social Media Use in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution by Caroline S. Sheedy

As mentioned before, the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 has brought a lot of attention to social media’s place in social change. This study looks at the trends involving the use of social media to bring awareness to social issues including the 2008 Mumbai Attack, the 2009 Iranian Green Movement and the 2010 Haitian Earthquake in addition to the Egyptian Uprising. Of note, it also acknowledges some of the negative impacts that social media using during political activities can bring to those involved.

Sheedy explained that although it is true that social media accounts were used positively by regular citizens, attempts to spread misinformation were prevalent in many grassroots movement situations. This highlights the reality that special care must taken while using social media to organize to make sure that efforts are not subverted by those who would manipulate posts for negative purposes.

 

 

Sources

http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/academy/content/pdf/participant-papers/2012-02-bifef/The_Role_of_Social_Media_in_Political_Mobilisation_-_Madeline_Storck.pdf

http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/mediaWorkingPapers/MScDissertationSeries/2011/64.pdf

https://www.american.edu/soc/communication/upload/Caroline-Sheedy.pdf

The Top Five Viral Campaigns

A world where we have access to nearly all the information in the world may seem like something out of a science fiction novel. And yet, here we are in 2015 where technology has permeated our lives at a level that once seemed impossible. Digital media has changed the way that we gather information. Whereas our direct interactions were limited largely by who we personally knew, technology online has created a collaborative environment that allows for information to be shared between people in an instant. Viral campaigns are a normal part of outreach in the 2010s. Instead of being forced to go from door-to-door in person, these campaigns can reach people from the comfort of their home and be rapidly shared. Here are some of the top viral campaigns that highlight what inspires us to explore the possibilities that digital media has to offer to connect people with ideas. (Source: Entrepreneur Magazine)

 

Chipotle:The Scarecrow

This unique campaign involved the release a short film called The Scarecrow on September 11, 2013 on YouTube. It was obvious that this short was a success when it was reported that 5.5 million people watched it in the first week. The film starred a Scarecrow living is a dystopian world who watched in horror as the farm he lived on treated livestock unethically. Feeling that he could do better, the Scarecrow found a red pepper and picked it before deciding to grow his own vegetables and sell burritos. Critics found this novel way to showcase many of the values that Chipotle exposed that the short won the Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches – Original Daytime Program or Series and for Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program at the 41st Daytime Emmy Awards.

 

Dove: Real Beauty Sketches

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches was a short film released on April 13, 2013 that was part of Dove’s larger Campaign for Real Beauty. This unique project explored the way that women are often self-critical of their own appearance and how important it was for them to find their own self-worth despite the slanted perceptions beauty that exist in mainstream culture. A group of women were asked to describe their own appearance for a sketch artist followed by one of the other women describing them for a sketch as well. Afterwards, both sketches were compared. The film had over 163 million views by June 2013 and received the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity later that year.

 

Evian: Roller Babies

Evian’s Roller Babies holds Guinness World Record for “Most Viral Ad of All Time.” The video which was simple in its approach of showings dancing babies on roller skates garnered over 13 billion views on YouTube since its release in 2009. A follow-up campaign was released in 2013. The campaign was unique in that it was one of the first attempts at having a completely online-based advertising campaign.

 

Lay's: Do Us a Flavor

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor is a simple yet fun campaign that is in its 3rd year running as of 2015. The campaign calls for participants to submit new flavor ideas that they would like Lay’s to release to the market. The person who has their flavor chosen receives a $1 million prize. What makes this campaign viral is that once a panel of judges narrows the choices down to a final four, the public can vote via social media for the final winner.

 

GoPro: Fireman Saves Kitten

GoPro’s Fireman Saves Kitten was a viral film released in 2014 cut from raw footage of a firefighter rescuing a kitten from a house fire. The film received Best User-Created Viral Ad award the 2014 Viral Video Awards. As of 2015, the video has nearly 27,000,000 views on YouTube. What made this film so unique was that it was a practical use of a product used to show a practical use in action.

These are just a handful of viral campaigns that showcase how powerful digital media is in spreading a message to the masses. We believe that the same principles used in marketing for viral campaigns can be utilized in the political world. VoteRockit believes that continuing to develop digital marketing applications towards politics is one way to get more people engaged in the political world than before. We invite you to discuss these ideas with us.

Reaching Voters in 2016

From Radio to Mobile Apps, Voters can still be Reached.

The media landscape has always been in a constant state of flux. From the creation of newspapers to the invention of the radio then the television and how the internet, people have been working very hard to get the lots of people paying attention to what they have to say.

The internet itself has been a driver of media innovation. It’s a gigantic distribution network filled with information and lots of people looking to consume it. Since it’s mainstream appearance in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, companies have been developing new products that carry that information to the right audience. We’ve seen innovations that have taken email from an obscure protocol that required a desktop application to access to creating beautiful web based email clients. We have seen internet IRC channels spawn the birth on online forums and chat programs that eventually lead to social networks and the social media revolution.

Today, we are in the midst of another evolution. It’s mobile. More and more people are accessing data on their phones in mobile apps than ever before. According to mobile analytics firm, Flurry, they are seeing more and more people choosing mobile applications over web browsing to consume content. This is an upward trend. Think about it. When you want to see a video on YouTube, do you go to the web browser on your phone or the YouTube app? How about when reading the news? Browser or app?

Calvin Coolidge next to car with megaphone

Here’s a bit of history for you. The first U. S. President to record his voice was Warren G. Harding in 1920. Calvin Coolidge was the first U.S. President to make the presidential radio broadcast. The first President to appear on television was President Franklin Roosevelt. The first president to send an email was President Bill Clinton, even though he only sent two. And the first U.S. President to have a mobile app was President Barack Obama. Like the radio, the smartphone has seen explosive growth. The first mobile app used by a presidential candidate in 2008 is as significant and event as when the first Presidential Radio Broadcast was first made in 1923.

According to Statista about there 182.6 million smartphone users in the U.S. by 2016. That will grow to 220 million in 2018. Smartphone users will make up 75.3% of the mobile phone users in the U.S. by 2016. For them, the norm is in their pocket. These are also the same people cutting the cord and canceling their cable and satellite service.

So you see, having a mobile app available to reach your constituents is a worthwhile investment and poised to become the norm by the next election cycle.

To learn more about how VoteRockIt can help you reach voters, please visit us here.

Thoughts on the Two Party System

One country. Two parties. This has been the reality in the United States of America since nearly the very beginning. The Two Party System’s roots can be found in the disputes that occurred during George Washington’s presidency in the 1780s-90s. As the new nation was working toward crafting a stable government, two main factions arose despite Washington’s desire to keep factionism outside of American politics. Originally, there were not supposed to be any parties whatsoever. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson each had their own vision for the future. Their two visions often conflicted and indeed Congress quickly became divided. As early as the election of 1796, politics in the United States has been drawn between party lines. The roots of the two party system surround the concept of federalism. In short, federalists believed that federal laws issued by a central government overrode state law while the anti-federalists disagreed. Supporters of Hamilton’s faction believed that actions that did not specify conflict the Constitution, mainly fiscal related actions dictated by Congress were lawful. In contrast, Jefferson believed  Congress should let each state dictate its own borders and that Congress should remain limited to provisions in the Constitution..

The basic disagreement of the two dominant parties has always been centered around how much the  government should be involved in society.  The bottom line of contention in politics in the United States has always surrounded the following question: Does the government have an obligation to legislate and enforce guidelines on the public and if so to what extent?

Consider the following political scenarios:

  • The Desegregation of the South: Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the Southern States strongly resisted desegregation. It took the use of the National Guard to force the South to lift its openly racist practices targetingAfrican-Americans. In this case, individual states tried to enact their own laws that conflicted with that of the federal government.
  • The Fall of the Soviet Union: During the height of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party reigned supreme. There was no room for alternative positions and indeed the Soviet Union was only collapsed because the suppressed voices among eventually gathered in large enough force to overturn the iron tight rule. In the Soviet Union, the government made decisions that affected the general population whether it was popular or not.

Another option used in other nations is the multi-party system. In a multi-party system, voters vote in members of their respective Parliaments based on individual party choice. While some leaders are elected directly, the vast majority of Presidents and Prime Ministers gain office based on having a majority of seats in Parliament. The ruling party rarely creates a voting majority forcing like-minded parties to band together into voting coalitions to ensure that the passage of laws is possible.

Are two choices better than a multi-party system based on coalitions? Multi-party coalitions make it harder for the system to completely halt as we have seen in the United States whenever the government shuts down due to the annual budget successfully passing. At the same time, when coalitions do fail, it usually means another costly round of early elections in order for a new government to come into power. An example of this instance can be seen in Israel whenever the Knesset goes to new elections upon the majority coalition deciding to break apart.

In contrast a two party system makes it difficult for viewpoints divergent from the two main party platforms to win at the election box. It also means that with only two choices, there will always be a majority of votes making it harder for the government to fail. Both systems have their pros and cons that make this question complicated. A simple “We do things this way because we have always done them so” response hardly qualifies as a serious analysis of the two party system.

What are your thoughts on the two party system? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Role of Social Media in Politics

At any given moment, someone is using a social media account to post a piece of political commentary on the Internet. Discourse has been a part of the political process from the earliest days of established government. It is in our nature to want to understand the world around us. In days long past only prestigious political scholars were able to have their message easily heard by the masses.  Everyone else discussed politics with their closest friends and sometimes among their local community at large.  It still remained that unless you were in high level politics, nobody was likely to hear your thoughts on the political state of your country outside of your inner circle.

The rise of social media has opened the door for political discussion wider than ever before. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow people to talk about the issues of the day in real time with anyone willing to listen anywhere in the world. Voices that were once difficult to hear can now speak with the click of a mouse. This begs the question: What role does social media play in politics today?

Social media clearly allows people to discuss and organize in ways that they have never been able to do before. A prime example of this phenome is the Egyptian Uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from the Egyptian presidency in February 2011. Even a decade before the uprising, it would have been difficult for people to organize into mass protests for fear of government authorities cracking down on their desire to protest perceived injustices. One can argue that the current situation has hardly improved life in Egypt but there is no denying that the main reason that the mass protests successfully took place was due to the use of Twitter to inform people on where to meet. The effectiveness of Twitter became so prevalent,  government blackouts on cellphone service have now become a reality in other protest attempts such as those of the Green Movement in Iran.

The other side of the coin of social media can be seen in incidents such as what happened to disgraced Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) who destroyed his political career with a single private message with a photo on  Twitter. The ability to quickly connect with anyone in the world can backfire on even the most seasoned politician. Politicians behaving badly is hardly new to the world but in a world of instant communication, it is harder than ever for them to keep illicit activities secret.

Social media has the power to bring revolutions high and to humble politicians. Although we are only just beginning to understand the larger impact that social media has in the politician world, one thing is clear, it has shredded  boundaries to create a new precedent for for the distribution of knowledge and communication.

What role do you think social media plays in 21st century politics? Leave a comment and let us know.

Build your NationBuilder nation using a smartphone app

nationbuider-logo-black-rec-1000x300

We're excited to announce that we now integrate with NationBuilder. You can now find VoteRockIt in the NationBuilder app directory.

NationBuilder customers can now sync their data file with VoteRockIt to allow volunteers and advocates to gather information from the field.  VoteRockIt also syncs events and posts and will soon integrate with NationBuilder surveys and tagging as well!

Thank you to the team at NationBuilder for building an open platform for building communities.  We were inspired by Jim Gilliam in his speech to the Personal Democracy Forum.  VoteRockIt is committed to being a non-partisan platform for connecting people, and NationBuilder is at the center of that goal for all communities.

Feng Shui Your App Design

Feng Shui

I have a saying: Feng Shui your app.  Organize your app in a way that opens up the content, the value of your app.  Your app should solve a problem; it should make the user’s life better.  The only way to do that is to get your UI and navigation out of the way.  Feng Shui your app to make the user's experience delightful.

1.  Remove any features that are unnecessary.  Function dictates form, but form determines usability.  Make it simple to derive the value.

2.  Remove any UI that is unnecessary.  Page curl transitions... get rid of them; all of them.  You should have a sense of what is unnecessary.  Listen to your design sensibility and don’t be afraid to cut things that only seem like they have value.

3.  Free up as much real estate for your content as possible.  Increase whitespace around your content.  If there is navigation that is rarely used, move it.  One good place for navigation is behind the main screen (i.e., pull out drawers, spring boards, pull downs, etc.).

Sensation Transference

Steve Jobs insisted that his projects look beautiful inside and out.  He knew that when something looked beautiful that it transferred to the users perception of utility.  Give users a reason to be excited about what they are using, especially if there is ANY learning curve.  This concept is called sensation transference and it’s a major reason for Apple’s popularity.

Mobile is Not Web

Although it’s obvious that mobile is not web, designers continue to push web paradigms and concepts to mobile apps.

1.  Do not create web forms.  You have numerous tools at your disposal to avoid web style forms.  Data entry is hard on mobile.  Let users enter data one or two pieces at a time.  Let users enter data as they need it and not all at once.  Avoid the keyboard if possible.

2.  Navigation items that are not used often should not go in the main navigation.  Consider how often a user will need to tap a particular item and move it to the appropriate place.  The top and bottom navigation is the most valuable space you have.  Top and bottom navigation should be reserved for action items and items that point to navigation.

3.  No need for logout.  Users do not need to logout of your app.  Move it to the settings page and do not put it in the top right or in main navigation.

4.  Users tap, they don’t click.  There is no hover state.  Users only see highlighted items while they are pressing the item.  Make it clear where users should tap.

5. Bright colors, shadows, or gradients often clue users into tapping.  In a flat design world color is even more important.  Use reds for destructive actions, use greens and blues for constructive actions.

Consider Gestures

Gestures are actions that people do naturally.  This is why children often have no problem using iPhone or Android.  It’s important to consider these while you’re creating a mobile design because it changes the user’s interaction with the app.  Gestures are great, but the caveat is that they need to be discoverable.

1.  Next items translate into swipes.

2.  Delete items can be swiped away in the opposite direction of your next item.

3.  Swiping up can lead to a menu or something that the user may want to “pull up.”

4.  Users rotate with two fingers and collapse or explode items with three fingers.

5.  Edge gestures give users a way to discover overlays or pull out menus.  Edge gestures are where a user swipes from the edge of the phone into the center.

6. Direction matters.  Swiping left is a destructive action and swiping right is a constructive action in the context of a list.  In other contexts they are next and back.

Consider Transitions in the Beginning

Wireframes are very valuable, but often transitions are left out.  Transitions like modal windows, animations, swiping, etc. need to be baked into the app in the beginning of the process.  Your developers will love you if you include the transitions in the wireframes between screens.

Your Icon is The Face of Your App

Your icon is the face of your app.  I said it again because it’s important even though it’s obvious.  Users determine if they trust your app based on your icon.  They won’t download it if they think an amateur designed it (they don’t have time).  Make sure your icon stands out.  Make it bold, make it bright, make it simple, or make it stand off the screen.  Just make sure it’s different and beautiful.

Use Standard or Discoverable Patterns

The OS determines the standard patterns of the functionality and the design.  For years skeuomorphic design was popular on Apple products.  iOS designers continued this trend in their apps.  Skeuomorphic is on it’s way out, so make sure you consider the OS when you’re designing your app.

iOS 7 is flat, bright, and uses parallax and other animations a lot.  Transitions are more subtle.  Whitespace is exaggerated.  Users can now adjust font sizes on the fly.  Typography is integrated into the operating system.  Yay for kerning!  Check out the iOS 7 transition guide and UI catalog for other ideas and considerations.

Design is increasingly important in our lives.  I no longer hire web designers to design mobile apps.  I look for designers with mobile experience and designers who want to create a delightful user experience.  Keep your apps simple and consider the entire mobile paradigm.

Matt Hudson is owner of VoteRockit in Charlotte, NC.  

Feel free to reach out!

@MattFWD

matt@voterockit.com

 

Campaign Budget: Cost versus Worth

The budget of a campaign is one of the most crucial elements of the kickoff of an election. Your committee decides how much of the campaign’s resources should go to what line-items, and on occasion the most effective means of promotion and GOTV efforts fall by the wayside for more instant gratification items. For instance, parade candy or promotional items can easily take up ten or more percent of a campaign’s budget. Breaking down the hard math, the campaign is throwing out a nickel for every piece of candy that leaves the parade walkers’hands… money you can’t get back. This is money that does nothing to promote the messaging, branding, or vision of the campaign. Instead of using money to sway voters with candy, instead look to redirect those funds into something that can work FOR you. An app in today’s society is something that is easily accessed, easily updated, and is a reliable means for getting your message out. Targeting your voter base with updates on platforms, event details, and volunteer information is an invaluable resource that will move your numbers far more than candy and stickers at a parade.

Mobilizing Volunteers Using VoteRockIt

Here at VoteRockIt we believe that our powerful apps are just what every politician and every campaign needs to engage with the public, bring people on board and take control of any election. If you’re here you may already be using an app that we created for your campaign, which is awesome because we have some great information for you. But, even if you don’t have your VoteRockIt App yet, this next bit of info will show you why we think no campaign should be without one.

If you’ve been in politics long enough you realize that, during any campaign and for any candidate, there is a huge need for volunteers to do a wide variety of tasks. From going door to door with brochures or answering phones to taking information for donations and much more, the more volunteers that you can contact and convince to work with you, the better.

And that’s where a VoteRockIt customized app for your campaign can shine.

Once your app is set up and in place, you can start sharing information about your campaign and connecting and engaging with your constituents. Your staff can begin finding those people that are keen on helping you win the election simply by sharing the information that volunteers are needed through the app and relying on friends of your campaign to share this information with others.

The opportunities to get a flood of volunteers are endless. Once a person has your app on their phone they can share your information and your ideas with their friends, on social media like Facebook and Twitter and even with their neighbors.

They can also get information on how to volunteer their time and efforts for your campaign simply by swiping once or twice on your app. They can also request a sign to be placed in their front yard through your app and, best of all, they can use the app to make donations to your cause.

The amazing thing about the VoteRockIt app is that all of these things can be done very quickly, quite simply and for a fraction of what it used to cost back in the day. The fact is, no matter where you are in the United States, your constituents are mobile and using their smart phones to find out about you, volunteer their time and support your campaign efforts.

If you have any questions or would like more information about getting a customized VoteRockIt app for your next campaign, please give us a call or drop us an email and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

More and more people are using their mobile smartphones to research political candidates

Most experts will tell you that politics, at their most basic, have not changed in hundreds of years. On the other hand, the way that politicians engage with the public, get out the vote, convince people that they are the candidate to vote for and otherwise connect with the public has changed dramatically. In the 1960s politics was profoundly changed in an instant during the presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Today there is a new media that is even more powerful and more ingrained into our society, and it’s called the mobile smart phone. Just like television in the 1960s, the mobile smart phone is changing  the way politicians engage with the public.

For example, in 2012 a Pew Research Center study was released that showed nearly 70% of all adults own a mobile smartphone! When you consider that the first mobile smartphone, the iPhone, was released only six years ago, those numbers are astounding!

With numbers like these, it’s not surprising that political organizers and organizations are taking a very close look at how mobile can help their campaigns. The fact is, with more people now using mobile devices to surf the Internet than laptops and PCs, your constituents have already started using their mobile phones to research you, find out about your ideas and plans, and even make donations to your campaign!

Like any type of business or organization, there is always in need to gain supporters, reach the public, engage on their level and do your best to convince them that you’re the man or woman for the job. That’s why mobile is so important.

Statistically, during the 2012 presidential campaign, over 80 million voters in the United States gained access to information about their political choices using their mobile smartphone. These numbers represent an incredible 200% increase in the use of mobile smartphones for political information over the 2008 election campaign!

The simple, inescapable truth is that people absolutely love their smart phones! It is said that the average smart phone owner is within 3 feet of their phone 24 hours a day!

If you’re in the political arena you should already have a mobile website at the very least.  If you do, when voters use their smart phones to research you or make donations, they will be able to easily find the information that they need without having to use their fingers to scroll all over their smart phones small screen.

If you have any questions about using mobile smartphones in your next campaign, please let us know and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Your Campaign Needs an App

iPhone Campaign App
iPhone Campaign App

Apps Provide a Direct Channel to Electorate

iPhone and Android make up 90% of the Smartphone Market

The most important part of any campaign is reaching potential voters in a powerful way. Before you start a campaign, you are clear on the issues that are most important to you, and your campaign is a way to let others in on that. In a world where people on every socioeconomic level are depending on their smart phones for Internet access and all forms of communication, utilizing an app that effectively helps you communicate with your constituents is important. In addition to providing multiple forms of communication, our app helps you organize your approach.

  • Raise Money
  • Collect Data
  • Mobilize Volunteers
  • Get Out the Vote

It’s no longer optional for a campaign to have an app if the politician wants to be competitive and effective, and our app provides all the essentials, including the ability to accept donations, social media integration, and even assisting with volunteer mobilization.

This app reminds your supporters to vote and helps them find their voting location as well. It enables you to share the latest news on your campaign and let users know what small, doable steps they can take to help you get elected. It also lets you easily say thanks!

Most importantly, the public needs to get to know you. In order to remember who you are and what your campaign is all about, potential voters need to know the face and the person behind the platforms. The app allows direct, personable communication.

This app is customizable to match your own needs and preferences, and it’s available for both iPhone and Android phones.