Design Critique: Countable

Countable offers the American public a service to keep better track their government, their tag line being, “Your government, made simple”. Countable provides users with clear summaries of upcoming and active legislation. They offer services such as a streamlined process for users to voice opinions to their representatives and  a way to keep track of how representatives are voting.

One service Countable offers with excellent discoverability is the newsletter, clearly seen on the homepage.

The raised aspect of the SIGN UP button (shown below) gives the perceived affordance of clickability and the change of cursor shape when hovering signifies that clickability.

The Email Address box gives a perceived affordance for typing, through mimicking a text box, and the change of cursor icon when hovering over the box signifies to a user that they can type. The addition of an action word, such as “type” or “enter” would create a stronger signifier to users, without having to hover their cursor over the box.

The signup process includes constraints, as a user cannot move forward in the process without first entering a valid email.  The images below show the instant feedback, via popups, a user receives if they haven’t entered a valid email address.   

Once a valid email is entered and the SIGN UP button clicked, the button’s text changes to SUCCESS (image below) and the raised aspect of the button is changed to a flatter design. This instant feedback assures the user that they have achieved their goal of signing up for the newsletter.  

Feedback for success could be stronger by taking into account slips or mistakes that could have been made (ie. mistyping or entering the wrong email address). One way to do so would be to offer a popup, which asks the user to check for their inbox for confirmation. The image below is an example of what that popup could look like and is already used by Countable for membership sign up.  

 

A voting service is also offered to Countable members. Users are able to vote on bills and Countable sends the vote to the user’s representative, allowing their voice to heard.

Knowledge in the head is needed for this action, as a user must know that Countable offers this service. That said, discoverability is strong once a member is on a bill page (see below).

To vote a user must click on the YEA or NAY boxes.  The boxes are color coded (as a traffic light is) and include a check icon or cross icon, mapping those icons and colors to the intended action (relying on cultural knowledge in the world) and helps to further bridge the gulf of execution.

There is a perceived affordance for action (voting) as the bill is worded in the form of a question, implying a response is wanted.  This could be made stronger by changing the flat design of the YEA or NAY boxes to a raised button design (like the SIGN UP button previously discussed.)

Clickability is signified by the change of cursor icon when hovering over the boxes. Once a user clicks on their choice, positive feedback is instantly given in the form of a popup (see below) ensuring a user that the action they have taken has brought them closer to their goal.

When a user exits the popup sequence, they receive more feedback with the use of the grey scale on their opposing view (see below).  

Overall, this process has been streamlined quite successfully, with plentiful feedback to users, but it could be improved to take into account slips and mistakes.

Having a confirmation stating, “You are voting [YEA or Nay] on this issue, would you like to continue?”, with a small summary of what that opinion means, to the first part of the popup sequence would ensure a user voted correctly before moving forward (and the ability to change their vote if needed).

Countable is an excellent website offering a valuable service to the American public. They have taken on complicated subject matter and have made it accessible to their users, along with streamlining actions users can take to ensure their voices are heard. The suggestions above will only make Countable’s services stronger by helping to minimize slips and mistakes (with additions of constraints and feedback) and bridge the gulf of execution and evaluation more completely.