GRound Up

The 2017 election surfaced many problems with our current political structure, chief among them the donation policy across state lines. Money is often a deciding factor in political races and in 2017, Democrats from different states were forced to watch from the sidelines as most were not able to make individual contributions, which was especially painful in swing-state races. 

GroundUp’s mission was to allow Democrats living in all corners of the country to make an equal impact on U.S. elections, not just the wealthiest among us and lobbying groups. 

*Note: GRound Up went through multiple name interations throughout this project, which is why different design stages show different names

Role: Designer, Researcher 

Team: 3 members

Timeline: 2 weeks



The Challenge

GRound Up approached us with the idea of bringing grassroots fundraising to millennials to counteract Trump and bring more Democrats into Congress.

Using Bernie Sanders' and Barak Obama's campaigns as examples, E Pluribus wanted to support a candidate's campaign financially through individual donations rather than SuperPACs that currently rule the campaign contributions.

By rounding up the spare change from cashless purposes, individuals would have a low-barrier entryway to donating and the change would then be spread across the Democrats in battleground states.

Donation flow

The Research

We sent out a survey to understand who our users were. From the 12 responses we received, we were able to determine that our target users were millennial liberals from metropolitan areas

We interviewed 8 target users to better understand what their wants and needs would be if using our service. After some affinity mapping, we found three main themes that were expressed among the users.



1. Engagement
"I vote along party lines because that's the only option in a
two-party system"
You didn't have to be a Democrat to vote Democrat. Many users said they would vote Democrat because it's the best option and it would be difficult to vote otherwise in a two-party system. Regardless of their party, most of our users were motivated to do something political because of the Trump "crisis". 



2. Impact
"When I know I am making an impact, that motivates me to
keep donating."

Users want to feel valued and like they've made an impact, otherwise, they would stop donating.



3. Trust
"I need to know that a large percentage of the money is going to the cause"
People would feel more secure if the company was backed by a well-known brand. They wanted to know exactly where their donation was going as well as how much was going to company overhead.



While we were able to extract the main themes that were present across all our users, we formed personas from the user interviews as well to inform our design decisions going forward.

Primary Persona

 Primary Persona

Our primary persona, Caroline, was defined by her need to donate to specific candidates based on issues she cared about.

Secondary Persona

Secondary Persona

Amanda is more realistic in how dollars are used in elections and realizes that handpicking issues will not affect as much change as donating to the overall cause and getting Dems back into Congress.


Since we had a very short time frame to complete this project, we had to understand what were the most important things to tackle in this iteration. The three main themes we derived from the research were our North Star to base our MVPs off of. 


The Design

We ran a design studio sketch session after discussing the MVP pages to tackle first. 


Our biggest challenge at this stage was clearly understanding what other team members were trying to communicate. There were a lot of instances where we all assumed we were on the same page design-wise, but only realized later that we were thinking about different things. 

We addressed this problem by making checkpoints and summaries going forward to mid-fidelity sketches.

Donation Page



Profile Page



Other Pages


Testing and Iterations

We started user testing on our medium fidelity to understand the biggest user difficulties early. Since we had no content on our mid-fidelity prototype, we gave users a series of tasks to complete after giving them a brief introduction of the project. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 4.28.23 PM

Iteration 1 

We made some changes on the four main problems above that users encountered in the medium fidelity version and moved into high-fidelity.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.53.59 PM

Difficulty with: Engagement

People were unable to find additional information that we had provided that weren't in the three categories in the global navigation.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.54.17 PM

Difficulty with: Impact

People did not see that there were two methods of donating, so we had to make the tabs clearer.


Iteration 2

We conducted a second round of user testing on 3 users, this time giving them no context because the copy had been added. We wanted to see how well the value proposition was conveyed.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.54.29 PM

Difficulty with: Engagement
Users still did not understand the purpose of the website because people did not read.
We realized we had to focus on conveying the message quicker and clearer with less text.


Iteration 3

For our final iteration, we focused again on the homepage and conveying GRound Up's message. 

We also did a major redesign on the global navigation; throughout all our user testing sessions, people had difficulty finding additional information other than the three main categories we provided. 

To combat this, we refocused on the main business goal: to get people to donate. We realized having three navigation pages being so prominent deterred people from exploring more. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.54.39 PM

Difficulty with: Engagement

We changed the global navigation as well as having an above-the-fold banner to better convey our message.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.54.48 PM

Difficulty with: Impact

We reduced the wording on other key pages

The Deliverable

In two weeks, our team performed primary user research to gauge interest and validate GRound Up stakeholders' initial assumptions, synthesized the research into key themes and personas, designed a responsive website, and had three rounds of iterative design informed by user testing. 

We completed our goal to deliver a MVP product to the stakeholders. 

Click here to see the full spec doc. 

GRound Up is live! They have since iterated since release, but it's great to see what ideas they kept and incorporated.


Next Steps

If we had the time to do more, we would have also liked to do research for the full lifestyle of the product. For the MVP, we focused mainly on the onboarding for new users, but we would have liked to focus on customer retention. We would also have liked to track to see if there was any correlation between the donations and how well the campaigns did later in this product's lifecycle as well. 

We would have also liked to do more exploration with the UI of the site.


"Sarah did a phenomenal job asking the right questions, putting in the work, getting into the weeds and pulling out insights to come up with a phenomenal, data-driven design that was not only functional and practical, but also aesthetically pleasing. I'd be glad to work with her again."

-Jeremy Gottlieb
CEO and co-founder of GRound Up