User Tests and Further Research Snapshots
In the process of launching the web app, we made a concerted effort to leverage existing tools of engagement, most pertinently, Instagram. The prevalence we observed in terms of our intended user groups and their average time spent on Instagram, led us to prepare a social media campaign that worked to build awareness on Besides.
We designed 5 different social media campaigns. Here are a few examples. You can find the rest of them on @besides.in -
1. General Information about the working of the web app
2. The "How do I?" series, which answered doubts specific to voting in the general election
3. A series aimed at informing citizens about their rights and major facts regarding the elections
4. A series that compares the manifestos of various political parties and thus informs citizens about their parties stance on various subjects
5. A series that breaks down the different phases of the election
Checkout the rest of the campaigns on our instagram page - https://www.instagram.com/besides.in/
Fake news. Biased media. Political agendas. Echo chambers. Manufactured social media forwards. Sounds familiar? It’s a national, if not global phenomenon. How do we know if what we know is true? People are developing an appetite for fact-checked content and unbiased narratives. People want to know what the government is doing and what their own rights are. We want to be well informed before we make that critical voting
decision. But where is this information?
It’s either in our newspapers and TV screens, friends and family, peers and colleagues. The loudest voice is usually the one we hear. How do we approach conversations when we don’t know where to start?
We could do our research. But then that’s usually buried in huge, obscure documents stored in government databases. Wading through these to find the information we need is a daunting task. Few have the time, inclination, or patience to do this.
Besides - A web application to improve civc literacy by providing verified, bite-sized information
News, Media and Information
Visual Design | Design Research | Usability Testing | Campaign Design
India is the biggest and most complex democracy in the world. Besides.in by Within Reach tries to break down the information the Indian citizen needs, into fact-checked, bite-sized chunks, linked into engaging conversations. It was themed around the Indian Elections in 2019. Besides intends to spread across multiple subjects and issues, so that it evolves into a resource that anyone can pick up and search for a topic, so as to consume, share, and retain credible information for themselves.
The Web Application
The following 5 principles were implemented through the web app -
1. Primary Source
We look for the primary source of information at all times. If that is not available, and it is not from a reputed news outlet or scholarly journal, we will not consider it as something to include in our database.
This is crucial to our process. It is not to say that we are perfectly accurate, but rather, that we are verifiable, i.e. we have enabled the user to dig deeper and check for themselves, not to mention write to us if they come across something erroneous.
We are agnostic to the source of information, provided the fact meets the rigour of international fact-checking norms. We will look for multiple points of view, with the aim to represent as many communities and perspectives as possible.
We aim to reduce the density and complexity of the text, by ensuring the length of the fact is the size of a tweet, consumable and shareable. We will also visualise or contextualise data as far as possible, in either the fact or the context, so as to assist the user in understanding the information.
Finally, we stand for inter-connectedness. We recognise that information is only as good as what it's next to. From the source to the other perspectives to the larger picture. We do this by introducing two questions to the user, enabling them to dive deeper into what they find interesting. This ability, or agency, is a non-negotiable focus of ours, keeping us honest and keeping us from exploiting or manipulating
a screengrab of a fact from besides.in
a screengrab of the opening page from besides.in
After conducting surveys with 200 participants, 60 interviews and group discussions, 3 problems were identified related to accessing fact checked information :
1. Dense Information
Information was either too difficult to unearth (too many clicks or paywalls) or too long and cumbersome to comb through. This leads to awareness levels being skewed among the populace, causing an asymmetry in knowledge.
2. Polarised Opinions
The news sources, for better or worse, are extremely polarising. This is not different from the conversations observed in people’s homes or offices. This leads to people feeling either overly confident and dogmatic in their viewpoint, or wary to arrive at their conclusions, let alone present them.
3. Diminishing Trust
When one comes across information, it is received with scepticism if it does not support one’s point of view, or validation when it does. There appears to be a persistent sense of cynicism or ignorance among people in terms of the appropriate steps in order to trust the information they consume or share. This is further compounded by the prevalence of ‘fake news and misinformation.
4. Strong Family Biases
Most of the young people are already set on their unwavering political inclinations or opinions because of strong family biases or experience and it will take a lot to get them to sway to another side.