Dot voting: Advocate of Dot-mocrate (What is dot voting and why I love it)

Written by: Irish Isip

Dot-mocrat is a facilitation tool that aids decision makers, designers, project managers and clients make a unanimous decision. Other common terms are “dot-voting”, “sticker dots” and “dot democracy.” What one outside the UI/UX Industry may not probably know is that this tool is often used to open up discussions without disregarding anyone’s opinion. At the same time, streamline the thousands of good ideas with a good focus.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Prepare for the dot-voting. Obviously, there are already research in the ideas and sketches for the voters but since voters may include people that weren’t part of the ideating process, it is ideal that they come prepared by digging into the best practices they believe in. For an example, voters from the development side can research on technical feasibility and dig into the APIs and their existing codes they can work around with.

  2. Schedule the voting rounds. The time depends on how many ideas and sketches there are. However, it shouldn’t take more than two days. Plus, the round should not be more than 2 hours in a day, especially if it involves the other stakeholders outside of your team.

  3. As the voting round starts, remind individuals of the purpose and value. The facilitator should explain the goal and how many votes they have.

  4. During the votes, individuals should not be discussing with others and remain independent. In addition, they should try to vote more than what is visible. Meaning, they should vote for differentiators rather than the basic expectations. Voting for the feature “forget a password” is not as important as voting for a chatbot that allows users to ask for a live help.

  5. Converge and have a discussion on the votes. Usually, there is an order of where to start. Facilitator can start with the key questions “who voted for this?”, “why did you vote for this?”, “who came up with this idea and how did you come up with this idea?”

  6. Re-vote to find the clear winner.
    With this UX tool, everyone will be contributing equally through the sketches and voting. Let’s have an example. The clients wanted to have a channel to provide users some inquiries and questions they may have. There were a lot of votes on having a chatbot, some UIUX designers also showed this in their sketches. The developers will then continue to discussion with how it works and its maintenance. The information will make the clients think whether they have enough resources or future plans they might have and ask developers for any other alternatives…

Another benefit for the tool is that it is productive and time-efficient. The discussion will be focused on a few, prioritized possibilities. It is a good practice for the facilitator to quickly go-through, connect and see the overall thought process of the group. Then, the facilitator will also remove any topics that is a basic expectation.

A UX practitioner should have this in heart and be ready to practice it. A great add is when they have the skill to adapt this tool to fit any needs of the project and goal. I’ve heard that there are some that have their votes digitally, some would color-code votes to represent different criteria, some would put numbers in their votes to avoid joining the voting bandwagon.

A lot of decisions are made every day for a project but the most important ones are at the start. Eliminating the big problems can ease the way of the project throughout and most of the time, it can be difficult to open to these discussions. Having this tool as a compulsory step is a wonderful way to go around.

Here are just some steps and benefits I believe dotmocracy or dot-voting has and I’d like to end this with a quote from UI speaker and consultant Stephen P. Anderson “The value of dot-voting is as a discussion tool, not a tool for making decisions.” Out of everything I’ve mentioned, I believe if we didn’t keep this in mind, we would also be taking a step backwards if the team makes instant and uncareful decisions. More often than not, decisions should be made by fewer but much more important people in the later stages after considering the discussions gone through the activity.

Jaclyn Tsui

Jaclyn Tsui

Managing Partner at Altitude Labs. Love for product design and how things work. Duolingo junky. Usually have way too many tabs open. @fullstack @imperialcollege

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