ORGANIZING FOR ACTION
Impact focused design within a political advocacy organization.
Organizing for Action (OFA) was Barack Obama’s political non-profit, established in order to continue the grassroots movement after his re-election in 2012. OFA’s programs included digital and grassroots efforts, issue advocacy (seven core issues from Obama’s platform), and organizer training programs.
As part of the in-house design team, we acted as design consultants for the organization, collaborating with a variety of departments or issue campaign managers on any given project. The work was often fast and in reaction to the news cycle or happenings in congress. It was impact and outcome focused; our most important goal was to move our seven issues forward (e.g. get immigration legislation passed, protect Obamacare, pass marriage equality). Advancing the conversation on issues such as gun legislation was more important than obsessing over design details.
Telling the story of OFA’s impact.
OFA’s first annual report needed to tell the story of OFA and show donors the collective impact of all the programs and initiatives. But as project lead, before I could tell OFA’s story, I had to make sense of what exactly OFA’s story was. No one had assembled this content before, and there was not yet a collective narrative of OFA’s programs. Telling OFA’s story meant gathering content from each department, devising the content strategy, and getting buy in and approval from each department.
The annual report combines a compelling, cohesive through line narrative with a thorough overview of the work, engagement, press, and stats from the year.
Getting a big project done properly in an organization used to being scrappy.
OFA’s previous website was hard to use, hard to update, and did a poor job of communicating who OFA was and how to get involved. The challenges with the redesign were to better tell the story of OFA, make the call to action clear and accessible, and because OFA’s content changed constantly in response to current events, design a system that would allow anyone in the organization to update it on the fly.
Beyond the design challenge was the organizational challenge of getting people that were used to scrappy, short lived political campaigns, to step back and think long term. This was an outward push from the design and dev teams to make a functional tool for the long term. We engaged each department to get their specific needs and address pain points with the current system. As a more bottom-up initiative, the team had to advocate for a proper timeline and process to ensure the end result would be effective and long-lasting.
The new website launched with an updated backend system anyone in the organization could use to update content, clear navigation and calls to action, a clarified and compelling OFA story, and new features for engaging with issues from sharing on social media to writing a letter to the editor.
Keeping OFA’s audience engaged.
Share graphics were a core mode of communication for OFA across a variety of channels, including Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s social media accounts. While share graphics were often a part of larger campaigns (such as each of the seven primary issues), they were sometimes one-off quick responses to current events with a turn-around time of a few hours requiring the ability to concept and execute ideas quickly.