Simplifying voter registration: my small part in the general election

Aboutmyvote.co.uk on BBC News

About My Vote as seen on BBC News (photo courtesy of @randomapricot)

With the General Election only a couple of weeks away the website I designed for the Electoral Commission, aboutmyvote.co.uk, has received quite a bit of news coverage.

As I mentioned in my previous post, at the end of last year we were the proud recipients of a BIMA award for Best Informational Website beating the likes of the BBC, British Gas and Channel 4. It was an awesome feeling to win the award but its been far more rewarding to see the site being used successfully and generating positive feedback.  On several occasions we’ve received emails forwarded on to us by the client that they in-turn have  received from users of the site commenting on how easy to use it is, and they’re not all from my mum either! I find it quite surprising that people are motivated enough by a good experience to email a government department  about it, and I’m certainly not going to complain about it!

Making a difference

In May I’m getting married to a Cardiac Nurse.  It’s amazing to hear some of the stories she comes home with at the end of each day, matters of life and death,  which always makes it slightly harder to complain about the lack of fresh muffins in the studio or a slightly slower than usual internet connection, any such comments usually lead to questions asking me if my diamond shoes are too tight as well.

But in all seriousness it’s something that I’ve always struggled with in my career; how am I helping other people? I think that’s one of the key contributing factors that lead me to User Experience as a discipline, the ability to make things better for people. Seeing the success of About My Vote and the part its playing in the General Election has helped me to feel like I have, in some small way, made a difference.

Pride and ugly babies

I take great pride in my work, as cheesy as it sounds I do find myself thinking of each site as though it was a newly born baby, I just sometimes wish I could dis-own some of the uglier ones, drown them or at the very least make them walk 100 metres behind me at all times so no-one see’s us together.  But thankfully that’s not the case with About My Vote, I’m quite happily taking the role of the proud and slightly embarrassing parent, hence this blog post!

As well as the kind words the Electoral Commission has received from their users we’ve also been able to collect quantitative data during the run up to the Election.

Tangible success

“The biggest recipient of UK Internet traffic from searches for ‘register to vote’ last week was About My Vote… As a result, visits to the site increased by 252%.”
Robin Goad, Hitwise

So far there have been around 1.8 million visitors to About My Vote over the run up to the election. Around two in five visits have been by 18-to-24 year olds which was classed as a minority group, and a key objective, when we first undertook the redesign. Before the 6 May announcement was made the site received around 22,000-25,000 registrations per month. In the last month the site has had just under 500,000 registration forms downloaded from it, which is an increase of around 1900%.

Obviously this is to be expected in the run up to an election and in itself isn’t an indication of success, but I’d like to think with the increase in traffic and press coverage if the experience of using it was poor we would have seen a lot more negative comments and I’m sure fewer people would have been promoting on Twitter.

Gradual Engagement

I’d  like to think that the perceived simplicity of the process has helped with its advocacy. Back in December, shortly after our BIMA success I wrote a post for the Redweb blog on the approach we took. In it I compared the the new site with its predecessor. By involving users in our approach and simplifying the process we managed to reduce the bounce rate to only 12% and increase conversions by approximately 87%.  To find out more read my post Gradual engagement: removing barriers for voters.

About My Vote press coverage

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