Caucus Chaos: Iowa caucus blames usability (UX) flaws and functional integrity problems

Confusion & chaos rocks Iowa caucuses. Uncertain mess. Muddled mess. Technical glitch. Disaster. Frustration. Anger. Incompetence. Unmitigated disaster. Chaos. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Significant failures. Failed terribly. Snafu. Integrity of the process questioned. Disenfranchised. Can’t be trusted. Tainted. Flawed. Clusterf*ck. Sh!tshow.

These are the words being used to describe the (lack of) results of the Iowa caucus. Early blame is pointing to the app developer of the app used to collect data and report results. Wolf Blitzer of CNN said, “They had a really crummy app that screwed up the entire thing.”

On Monday, 3 Feb 2020, Iowa held the first democratic caucus of the 2020 presidential campaign. Candidates spent over $50M in Iowa and countless hours for the chance to be declared a front-runner in the race. Yet all of that is in question at this moment because of the disastrous rollout of the software.

Initially, caucus captains complained of the lack of usability of the app, that it wasn’t obvious, intuitive, or streamlined of a user experience (UX). Then, this morning, angry campaigns complained of the lack of results and reporting due to problem with the app algorithm and data processing.

All of this could have been prevented using a) user centered design (UCD) and b) agile development.

With user centered design (UCD) or human factors engineering (HFE), the user interface (UI) of the app would have been prototype and tested, which would have flushed out any usability problems that it may have had well before caucus day.

Had the app developer used agile software development, which includes techniques like pair programming, DevOps, automated testing, and iterative development, the software would have worked and if any bugs or problems happen to have been detected and a hot fix deployed.

Agile software development and user centered design prevents disasters such as these.

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