Citizen Interaction Design

The Citizen Interaction Design program hires UX professionals to work in City Hall for local communities. I was hired to manage and do user experience design work for Dig Downtown Jackson, an information campaign around the construction project going on downtown in the city of Jackson, MI.


Branding, a style guide, focus group findings, and some initial wayfinding signage had already been created. I was tasked with carrying the information campaign and wayfinding efforts forward, creating something that would get people to hang out downtown during construction, and creating templates for use during future construction projects.

Solution Overview

I updated the Construction Updates newsletter on Mail Chimp to make it friendlier and less purely technical. This was done by adding a sidebar with downtown events and local business listings, as another hope for the information campaign was to keep downtown busineses happy while the streets were torn up. Additionally, I made recommendations for improvements to the interactivity of the "Construction University" exhibit housed in City Hall.

Along with my own web searches and observational research, I interviewed business owners and people on the street about then sent out a survey to the newsletter mailing list that was answered by 50 respondents. Two research reports came out of this, and I used it to inform the newsletter, website, additional wayfinding signage, and informational poster templates I created for use during future construction projects. I wrote a guide for how they can be updated and maintained by the city's incoming (and first!) Chief Information Officer.

Over the course of the summer, I worked on another project with a local group and forged partnerships with local organizations to create tactical urbanism projects downtown - temporary spaces design to engage people with previously underutilized spaces and to interact with each other. I commissioned a mural and built a sound garden, game area, and seating area. I researched these spaces before and after implementation and provided an analysis of usage and high-traffic times.

Along with my main project, I also created a social media plan for the downtown Farmer's Market, which improved their social media use and response over the course of the summer.

What I Learned

  • How to create and manage my own projects when given ambiguous goals and little instruction
  • How to effectively accomplish tasks working with busy city officials
  • How to convince people outside of the field of information of the importance of my work
  • How to create adaptable templates and instructions for use
  • How to work to engage residents in community projects

Template of informational poster to post in construction zones. All templates are expandable or contractable based on construction project size and location.

Newsletter template - sidebar features are optional for varying construction project sizes.

One of the web page templates I created, listing names and timelines of each ongoing project as well as links to individual pages about each.

Map of the Activate Jackson tactical urbanism projects I completed. Used for marketing.

Additional icons I created to match the old. Created to expand the variety of project class icons available for future construction projects.

The first answers to the question posed on the chalkboard in the Activate Jackson seating area!