Team: Four UX Designers      

My Role: User Research

Time Frame:  Two-week design sprint


Project Brief

CNN competes in a busy marketplace for 24-hour news viewership and mobile app users—especially in election years. CNN wants to find new ways to get people involved with their government at the local, state, and national level.

Target Solutions

  • Mobile app to better educate voters about the current election cycle, beyond just primary and general election results 
  • Keep voters involved with the business of government on an on-going basis




  • User Research
  • Sketching and Proof of Ideation Process
  • Design Iterations
  • Key Screens and Wireframes
  • User flow
  • Storyboards - Axure
  • User journey map - Axure
  • Sitemap
  • Prototype - Sketch and Invision

Finding Users

We determined the target users to be United States voters who follow CNN and keep up on government, politics, and news, if they aren’t already involved.   

I wrote a screener survey to help us find these voters and to answer the following questions about the participants:

  • Do they vote in national, state, and local elections?

  • Do they follow politics outside of national elections?

  • What is their level of government and political involvement?

  • How do they feel about getting involved in government? Is it important to them?

  • Do they follow CNN? What type of content do they seek?



On CNN some news comes across as an opinion piece rather than “this is what happened, make of it what you will”, whereas reading it 15 years ago it wasn’t like that at all.
— Walter. Natick, MA
I think things that are more issue-based, like, would better encourage people to be involved.
— Kelly. Somerville, MA

Many users wanted ways to contact their representatives.  

Users follow CNN for national news, not local news.



I think it’s hard to know the truth when there are such polar extremes in the media
— Allie. Boston, MA

Research Analysis

Affinity diagraming allows us to visualize trends found in user interviews


Research Trends

  • Users = Massachusetts Voters

  • Age range: 24 - 48, live in Eastern Massachusetts, some identify as Democrats while others identify as progressive.

  • Users want to stay informed

  • Consume news from a wide variety of sources - CNN, BBC, Young Turks, Inside Daily Brief, WBUR Boston, NPR, etc.

  • Want to find ways to get involved if they aren’t already

  • Want to fact-check politicians and the news

  • Skeptical of the news, politics, and how the information is reported.

  • Usually have a network of people involved in politics and government

  • Would like to learn more and get involved in their local and state government

  • Not as many news options for local and state, it depends on location.

  • Involved in their local community


Problem Statement

CNN is informative for users, but it doesn’t encourage users to get involved beyond voting because it doesn’t have a platform for voter involvement, news on local government or fact-checking.  

Solution Hypothesis

By integrating a companion government involvement app into the current CNN app, we will achieve a way of providing voters relevant vetted information as well as enabling them to connect with their local, state, and federal governments.  We will know this to be true after usability testing and iterations.


User Personas

The Activist

As a member of my community, I want access to relevant information on organizations that are trying to solve issues, as well as ways to contact representatives.  I usually hear about events through word-of-mouth or through the Facebook groups I’m part of


The Media Consumer

As a voter, I want access to relevant information and involvement opportunities so that I can make informed decisions.  It’s difficult to find accurate information with all advertising and biased reporting in the media.

Storyboarding to Understand User Perspectives



Interviewing allowed me to put myself in the shoes of both personas to discover their influences, attitudes, and emotions when looking for information on politics and government.  


The Activist is motivated by their social network and their concern for political and social issues. Like the media consumer, these users are skeptical of biased news.  They are likely to have many activist friends.  


The Media Consumer is concerned about staying informed as a voter, though they are less actively invested in social and political issues, usually because their main social network contains few activists.


User Behavior, Expectations, Motivations, & Frustrations



Users are looking for news because they want to be responsible informed voters  

Voting is sometimes the only way people have a say in policy and government


Sketching & Ideation

 The team converged to sketch ideas based on research trends.  Our goal was to provide voting and political information in the app, but without it being overwhelming. The priority is connecting voters to their government and each other. We also kept in mind user requirements for fact-checking, finding ways to get involved, and local government information.

Essential Features

  • Location
  • Info on local events, town hall meetings, rallies, and marches
  • Election and candidate information
  • Contact representatives
  • Updates on federal bills in congress
Image uploaded from iOS.jpg

Development of CNNCT

Our sketching and ideation culminated in the idea of a companion app to the CNN app to get users involved rather than just consuming news.  At first we called it "CNN Connect", though the need for a logo shortened it to CNNCT.


Sitemap & User Flow


Users access the CNNCT app from the CNN app, and they need options that will get them involved, such as up-to-date information on current elections, representatives, candidates, events, marches, and rallies.


Usability Testing & Paper Prototype

It wasn't clear to participants as to how to get to the CNNCT app from the CNN app.

A participant skipped the zip code entry option because the phone’s location services render that information unnecessary.

“Voter Hub” and "Involved" are missing from the main menu.

In CNNCT app, the "Return to CNN” option on the top left appears to be the CNNCT home option.

Confusing wording: “Upcoming Votes” and “Elections” seem to mean the same thing (Solution: change “Upcoming Votes” to “Voting Schedule”).


Participant 1, Jason

Participant 1, Jason

Participant 2, Allie

Participant 2, Allie


Digital Wireframes


Digital Prototype


High Fidelity Wireframes


Collaboration involved a balancing act of trust, communication, and delegation.  The division of work was assigned according to our respective interests and skills.  I made the low-fidelity wireframes that influenced my team's visual design for the app.