Upshot is a feedback platform designed to encourage engagement from all members of a community, improving communication between decision-makers and the community as a whole.
The fundamental problem with implementing change in a community is the lack of transparency between community members and decision-makers. Upshot is designed to keep everyone engaged and accountable. It prevents the us-versus-them mentality that can develop in hierarchical communities by making consensus visible, keeping a record of changes made in the past and those in progress, and providing a platform for decision-makers to explain their reasoning to the community.
Home page details:
1. All members of the community are invited to provide suggestions for improvement.
2. Tabbed system lets viewers navigate to the most upvoted suggestions in a range of categories.
3. Icons scale with the number of upvotes and comments they have received, making consensus clear at a glance. This system ensures that decision makers are able to focus on what matters most to the community.
4. Any community member may upvote, comment, or write a new post. All posts are identified by name to ensure that comments are about helping, not griping. Because community members can see visible progress being made on their concerns, the focus stays on fixing the problem.
5. The opportunity to contribute is offered again after the viewer has scrolled through the current issues.
Progress page details:
6. The in progress page lets community members know what changes are being enacted and gives decision makers an opportunity to explain obstacles or successes. Community members become more involved when they know their voices are heard.
Feedback: A facet of productive discussion
Our project started with a simple truth: Communication is HARD.
If one can be easily misunderstood even among friends, what are the best approaches to communicating with those we don’t know well? Feedback is an area where productive discussion is often encouraged in theory, but rarely in practice. We encounter barriers to productive discussion every day, and we wanted to find out what tools and strategies could be used to help overcome these barriers.
We used the industrial design department at RISD as an environment to understand existing feedback systems, and see any opportunities for improving them. We interviewed students, faculty, and staff to hear about their experiences with the department and how feedback is given within it.
We identified four primary barriers to productive discussion:
Community members speak primarily to one another to ask questions or vent frustrations, meaning leadership remains unaware of the best changes for the community.
Leadership has no way of knowing to what extent a concern is shared by the community as a whole when an individual community member meets with them.
There are multiple pathways for community members to provide feedback, but they cannot see whether their contribution changed anything, which degrades their faith in the system. They are less likely to contribute in the future.
Community members often rotate through the community at a faster rate than leadership, meaning they lack context. Leadership can get frustrated when community members do not recognize improvements that were made in the past.
These three main barriers create an environment in which people who would overall benefit from open discussion of ideas instead only approach those who they know to share similar views. This pattern is visible in many contexts, from tight social groups to large organizations. Our goal was to determine a forum where a design intervention would be the most meaningful.
We settled on feedback systems as an area rich for design intervention. We applied our insights about communication in general to the specific problem of improving feedback systems.
We used the Industrial Design department at RISD as a test case to research feedback systems and develop what eventually became Upshot.
Aidan Hudson-Lapore conducted interviews, designed interventions and experimental stimuli, analyzed and synthesized research findings, contributed to final design concept, documented process, and was responsible for shooting and editing the final pitch video.
Janice Gan conducted interviews, designed interventions and experimental stimuli, analyzed and synthesized research findings, contributed to final design concept, and executed the final website and logo design.