Responses by Anthony Barkett, founder, Political Playlist; Nicholas Dies, partner, partnerships director, Funkhaus; Anna Musky-Goldwyn, founder, Political Playlist; Drew Baker, partner, technical director, Funkhaus; and Rick Baker, design director, Funkhaus.
Background: Political Playlist highlights young congressional politicians—under 45 years old. After learning that only 17 percent of the US Congress is under the age of 45, the Political Playlist founders wanted to create a platform that educated voters about the future leaders of our government. These lawmakers are often overlooked by mainstream news sources and are typically only visible through local media, their own social media accounts or press releases from their office—all avenues that the average voter might miss. Through a biweekly newsletter, a blog and social media, Political Playlist brings this information to the forefront. In being customized, the platform enables users to learn about politicians who speak to their interests.
Design core: Starting with a loose brand identity, we went through a round of exploratory prototyping to bring that identity to life in a couple different ways. Then through refinement with the client, we landed on a classic, playful and approachable style that was complemented wonderfully by designer Delaney Maher’s icon illustrations. Because Political Playlist is nonpartisan in its core operating tenets, it was important that the final product be politically agnostic and not too “patriotic” so as to stand the test of time as a modern political vehicle.
Favorite details: This is an ambitious initiative, and we’re proud of the final design. It conveys a complete narrative to the user through motion, layout, infographics and the actual user experience of the sign-up flow.
Challenges: As with any site that asks a user to sign up or share personal information, our challenge was to quickly and efficiently message the big idea of the project and then get the user into the sign-up flow quickly. After that, it becomes a retention exercise, keeping the interaction engaging and fun through design, playful illustrations and encouraging copy. The flow and structure of the questions have to distill the user’s demographics and political preferences through as few questions as possible while providing us enough actionable data to algorithmically serve up a customized playlist.
Technology: Choosing a content management system that supported a high degree of customization was important. We are big supporters of open source at Funkhaus, so we reached for the tried-and-true WordPress CMS platform. We built out a custom REST API to handle the user processes and leveraged the cutting edge GraphQL query language for the more intense data layer of the website. We’re also big proponents of Vue.js and its community in Los Angeles, so naturally, we built the front end using the Nuxt.js web application framework.
Special technical features: One of the technical challenges we’re proud of was to create customized user experiences without needing to engineer a login framework or ask that users create accounts. By storing data against unique user tokens, we’re able to allow Political Playlist users to receive one-of-a-kind automated newsletters based on their preferences and to edit those preferences all without ever having to sign in.