User interface figures prominently in voter outreach technology for 2008 presidential campaign

February 04, 2008 (PRLEAP.COM) Technology News
San Mateo, CA, February 4, 2008 Traditional political wisdom segments the electorate into three basic populations: us, them and swing voters. Political campaigns focus their get-out-the-vote operations on the us and swing segments and ignore the rest. But recent sophisticated data mining technology combined with enhanced user interface design, let campaigns "microtarget" voters at the individual person-by-person level.

Washington-based Catalist offers a web-based microtargeting service for progressive organizations. The "Q Tool" is Catalist's online application for creating queries, cross-referencing results and exporting findings. It is intended to help campaigners do things outside their normal expertise (i.e. complex data analysis to determine who might be moved by a targeted communication) and guide them through a decision making process they wouldn't be able to do on their own.

Catalist contacted Catalyst Resources of San Mateo, CA to help them optimize the user experience for the Q Tool. At the core of the Q Tool is the ability to create complex queries across multiple variables such as managing multi-selectable voting districts/precincts/wards, depending upon the state. Catalyst Resources re-engineered the display, adding visual clues that progressively lead users through the application, as well as adding color and shading, and embedded explanatory messaging. They also added an intuitive visual presentation of districts and selections as well as a map representation.

"The task at hand for any web-based application is to provide the best possible user experience." said Paul Giurata managing partner of Catalyst Resources. "A good application has limited value if only a select handful of people can figure out how to use it. With Catalist, we quickly identified the scenarios that were of highest value to users and redesigned the UI so they would be prominent in the software. "

Data mining tools like the Q Tool work best when users invest time and energy. Catalyst Resources therefore updated the application's overall look and feel to create a compelling and consistent environment that engages users and encourages them to return often to test approaches and measure impact. One future goal for the Q Tool is to create something akin to Amazon's recommendation engine. A campaign learns that someone is interested in environmental issues; the campaign gets back to that person and others like him/her with more information and then measures whether the contact persuades them to vote. The campaign then adapts the messaging according to the analytic response.

Voter files and commercial data may be the raw material of political microtargeting, but the user interface for entering, accessing and analyzing this information is what determines its ultimate value and use. With the enhanced user interface for the Q Tool, and continually refreshed political and commercial data, Catalist will provide progressive organizations in 2008 with microtargeting capabilities on par with the Republican Party's best efforts.

"With a sophisticated data mining engine and the right user experience for manipulating it, progressive organizations can locate supporters and predict the impact of campaign activities with a new level of precision and accuracy" said Laura Quinn CEO of Catalist.

About Catalyst Resources
Catalyst Resources specializes in the unique UI demands of AJAX Application Design, Financial Services, and On-Demand / Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Headquartered in the Silicon Valley, Catalyst Resources employs accomplished UI designers, information architects, developers and business professionals. More information about Catalyst Resources can be found at