Design for Democracy

Smartmatic is a Venezuelan multinational company that offers electronic voting technology and services designed to make elections more auditable and transparent. We held four weeks of co-creation workshops in Panama where we worked together with different project teams to build user-focused products for elections.

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Our scope was to coach the different product engineering teams within smartmatic about the people centred design process. We taught them how to build quick prototypes and iterations to validate their ideas with end user testing. Our design outcome was based on the rigid interface guidelines and criteria smartmatic follows in order to build election systems for different countries. Below are the products we focused on within smartmatic.

We were asked to teach our design methods to the teams, but our goal was to build a design culture in the company.

We were asked to teach our design methods to the teams, but our goal was to build a design culture in the company.


Election-360 is a platform for managing elections, enabling the effective planning, tracking and control of every process of an election in real time. It helps election project managers keep track of the poll workers, operators and the voting process. Election authorities are better able to inform politicians, the media and observers on the progress of the election because they can see exactly what’s happening in the field.

Comprehensive information is delivered in real time with pre-configured instructions, which enables authorities to respond immediately and correctly to incidents, before they have a chance to affect the election schedule. This builds public trust in election authorities and processes.

We had one week for this design sprint where we focused on the Election-360 platform. We had one mission per day of the week with the engineering team. On Monday, we would Set ours goals and brainstorm on how we could improve the product. On Tuesday, we reviewed and discussed the brainstorm session and then would start to sketch out rough wireframes. On Wednesday, we user tested our wireframes and gathered feedback on what we could improve in the designs. On Thursday, we would revisit the designs to make it into what we thought it should be based on the test session. On Friday, we user tested the wireframes again to see what the people we tested with thought of it. 


The results publishing website is where people can find real time election news, data and results from the voting process. This site is not only a place to read about the elections and results but also a place to discuss different points of view on the election process. In our design sprint, we tried to find out ways to customise the data and news that would be published on this website so that people could get real time updates on specific details of the election process. We discussed how election data is hard to relate to for people who are not data literate, and whether we could have experts explain it from a neutral point of view.

During this sprint, we looked at the existing website with critical eyes and then used the card sorting method to redesign the content on the website. We also used "the detective process" to discuss how we could create a content driven navigation which could help tell a compelling story to the readers.


The voting machine project had two parts. One part was redesigning the products. The other part was to redesign the interface for setting up the machines and the process of voting. For the first part of the project, we as interaction and user centred designers would observe how one would use the machines physically while setting up and voting. We collected the pain points through the user research sessions and presented it back to the product designers who redesigned the voting machines.

The second part of the project is what our sprint mainly focused on, the interface for the set up and the voting process on two different kinds of voting machines. One machine was a ballot reading machine and the other was a digital voting machine. We mapped out the different user journeys and scenarios that a poll worker and a voter would have to go through and how they would use these machines. Based on the user scenarios, we designed the voting interface and tested it through an iterative process. We designed the interface using the design guidelines given legally by the country we were designing for. It was challenging to design with these guidelines, but it made me realise the need for design and law to come together to build better experiences. 


The 5 day design sprint process was based on Google´s design sprint. However, we redesigned the workshop so that we could use it to coach companies about design and to build an internal design culture. Through this iterative design journey, engineers, project managers and other employees could see the value of using design to evaluate their ideas quickly and effectively.


Our Team:

  • Chiara Lino, Priyanka Kodikal (UX Design)
  • Camilla Konrad (Service Design)
  • Yvonne Romano (Visual Designer)
  • Stein f, Kristin and Siri (Product Design)

We have continued our design coaching sprints across teams within Smartmatic and are now helping them establish an in-house design department.