FGV/DAPP Democracia Digital
01 . About this Project
Democracia Digital (Digital Democracy) is an initiative created by Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and funded by the German Embassy in Brazil. The aim of the project is to promote studies, events, research, and news related to the social and political landscape in Brazil. The project's content is mainly divided into 3 subsequential study themes: Política e Desinformação (Politics and Disinformation), Esfera Pública e Discurso de Ódio (Public Sphere and Hate Speech), and Nova Regulação da Internet (New Internet Regulation). The whole platform is trilingual (Portuguese, German, and English), aiming to reach an international audience interested in understanding how the actual Brazilian social and political scenario manifests itself throughout the digital environments.
The design stage lasted for around 3 months in 2020 and included research, ideation, definition, and its final delivery as a high-fidelity prototype.
My roles in the project were UX Designer / UI Designer / Visual Designer and I was part of a team consisted of myself, a Product Owner, and two Junior Designers.
Figma / Adobe InDesign / Processing / Adobe After Effects / Google Docs / Google Slides / Google Sheets / Google Meets / Paper Sheets / Marker Pens
02 . About FGV/DAPP
DAPP stands for Department of Public Policy Analysis and is a part o FGV (Fudação Getulio Vargas). It works as an institution for applied social research concerned with the innovation in public policies in Brazil and the relationship between the Brazilian state and society.
03 . Desk Research
The project started with a kick-off meeting where stakeholders introduced the team about the goals of the project and how the content would be released through the platform in subsequential ways (focused on one study theme at a time). Right after the meeting, we decided to engage in a desk research to figure out content publishing platforms' best practices, organization, and structure. Here are some findings:
Blogs tend to have different ways of organizing their posts. Some use chronological order, but others may order it based on trending topics, number of likes, pinned posts, and so on.
The majority of the analysed platforms tend to have a highlighted post. These posts can be defined by different factors such as newest post, most important, or most popular.
Posts are usually grouped by categories, tags, and authors.
04 . Primary Research
To have a wider understanding about the project's goals, we scheduled another meeting with stakeholders in order to dig deeper what were their most important needs and goals.
04 . 01 . Business Needs
Democracia Digital is a project resulted from a grant received from the German government. The idea behind is for it to serve as a periodic and theme based research platform, which means that, for a specific period of time, only articles and studies related to one of the three themes will be published.
The goals from a business perspective are both to give DAPP and other researchers and institutions a medium to promote their studies, events, and publications that are related to the themes proposed such as social sciences, politics, technology, innovation, and so on, while at the same time projecting an overview of Brazil's current democratic, social, and political scenario for strategic, academic, business, and diplomatic purposes.
04 . 02 . Users Needs
After understanding the business priorities, the team engaged into finding out the users needs. Since the users group is constituted of two very diverse types of users, it was reasonable to split them in two different focus groups. I will call these two groups Publishers and Consumers. The first group (Publishers) consisted of researchers. This group represented the people that would be using the platform as publishers of studies and news. The total of 2 researchers were interviewed and based o the analysis of their expressed needs, I was able to find some insights. Here they are:
Publishers need different formats for posts according to the complexity of their studies. Posts may vary from simple news commentary to deeper and larger studies. For this reason, a categorization of types of posts should be done.
Larger and more complex studies are the main focus of the project and should have a highlighted position on the home page, contrary to shorter and more ephemeral posts.
The second group (Consumers) was formed by the users who would be consuming the content of the platform, this group was formed by students of social and political sciences and the total of 3 users were interviewed. Below are the most important findings I managed to extract from them:
Although the content of the website is periodic and theme based, Consumers manifested also a necessity to navigate to past themes and other content that is not necessarily in evidence at the moment.
Consumers also expressed an interest in events because they would be able to engage with a community of people associated with their interests, creating the possibility of valuable network opportunities.
06 . Problem Statement
After deeper analysis of all the data collected on the previous stages of the project, I was able to define the most important problems to be worked upon, here they are:
The main reason for the proposal of a thematic and periodic, from the business perspective, was so that they could focus on each study theme at a time and organize associated content and release them all together, applying an editorial approach for its publications. Despite that, users expressed that they would also be interested in following content from themes that were not necessarily in evidence at the moment. A solution focused on allowing the user to navigate through different types of content that at the same time is structured in a thematic manner is essential.
Both the business and the users showed an interest in the promotion of events because they can create possibilities of valuable networking, business and financing opportunities, and acquisition of knowledge outside of their usual environments. For these reasons, events must have a position of highlight right after the theme-based posts.
Larger or deeper studies related to the themes, being the main focus of the platform, need a differentiation from other more ephemeral types of content such as news or commentary.
07 . Site Map
To get a better overview of the platform and all its interactions, a site map was created.
09 . Wireframes
11 . Final Layout
A final layout was created and a high fidelity prototype was presented to FGV/DAPP.
12 . UI Components
Through this categorization, I want to emphasize some logical decisions that were oriented by my research findings and how they translate into an end-to-end product design project.
01 . Home Link Practical and conventional way for users to return to the home page. 02 . Menu Navigation links to all sections of the platform. 03 . Search Bar Since users would also like to navigate through content that are not related to the current theme, it is important to have a search option that is not affected by the ongoing theme. The search results will show any type of content that is associated with the word being searched, independent of the result's theme. 04 . Language Menu Since the project is a cooperation between Brazil and Germany and is triliingual (Portuguese, German, and English), it is important to have a language option on the main menu for frictionless international reach. 06 . Section 1: Current Theme Shows the content related to the focus of the studies being published at the moment (theme). This is the most important section of the platform and it contains the studies being published about the theme. It is the reason for the platform to exist. 07 . Theme Switch Dropdown menu for easy navigation between the three different themes. Very important feature that takes into consideration users most expressed needs. 08 . Post Tag Aggregate posts by topic (independent of theme). 09 . Post Author Identify and aggregate posts by author (independent of theme). 10 . Highlighted Theme-based Post The most important post of the theme appear in a highlighted position on its section. This post is selected by the platform admin. 12 . Recent Theme-based posts Shows the most recent posts published inside a theme. 13 . More Theme-based posts Aggregate all posts of a theme in chronological order. 14 . Section 2: Events According to the research findings, the themes section is also very important and it should come after the theme section. It shows not only upcoming events but also some events that happened recently. This section is not affected by the theme. 19 . Section 3: News This section shows short news and commentary that may be associated to the platform's main content or events. Less frequent posts.
13 . Conclusion
The platform's proposal of being theme-based is an interesting approach from the business side because it allows the studies to be produced and published in a focused and organized manner, although my engagement with the users and research findings indicated that a solution should be accomplished, not only taking the business needs into consideration but also, to allow users to navigate in a more free way while at the same time keeping the original thematic structure. Our solution for this problem was to allow a dropdown menu where users can easily navigate from one theme to the other according their own interestins, independent of the theme being approached at the moment. This project made me realize that sometimes, business needs and users needs may conflict each other. Having a user-centred mindset allowed the team and myself to be able to pursue and propose a solution that could accomodate both needs without having to sacrifice the platform's usability or interefe with the studies organization. Two secondary goals were also looked upon: the importance of having an events section where users could be informed of upcoming events (a great opportunity for network that, at the same time, serves as an attribute to attract new users), and aslo, the creation of a new category of posts (news), that don't interfere with the flow of the thematic studies being published.