In a Post-ABC News poll, 61 percent of people were anxious about the idea of Donald Trump as president, while 56 percent were anxious about Hillary Clinton. That was high, even for a presidential election, so we created an alternative to counting down the hours until polls close: 20 Election Day Distractions.
This was a technically simple project, so I focused on nailing the tone of the visual design and the content. The content needed to be relevant, but also calming. Playful, but also of the Washington Post brand.
To do this, each of the 20 distractions is related to American politics or history, but the tone is playful and it’s a Trump/Clinton-free zone. I also curated content ideas from the Post Graphics team, but I wrote each distraction to create a consistent voice.
For an extra touch of playfulness, I pitched the idea of commissioning illustrated characters. The characters branded the project and sent the message to readers that this project was made just for them — reflecting their feelings leading up to the election. In the end, I think we created an engaging presentation that made you want to click the “Distract me” button over and over again.
I enjoy leading brainstorming and idea generation efforts, including trying new methods from outside of the journalism realm. For this project, I used an audience-focused structure I learned from the product management interview book: Decode and Conquer.
You start by listing potential audiences, based on demographics and behaviors. Then you write a few user stories based on those audiences, in the following format: As a (role), I want (need/desire), so that (benefit). You then select a user story to brainstorm project ideas around.
This method not only ensures you are creating something that has an audience, but the narrowed focus generates far more interesting ideas than a one-size-fits-all approach.