Encouraging participation in social issues through user-centred design

Our Mission

In 2013, New Zealand's Electoral Commission called on academic and research communities to respond to declining voter participation. Massey University’s Design+Democracy Project was formed in response to that call-to-action. We work in partnership with industry, government, and the social sector to ignite a passion for democracy in young people through user-centred design.

Cannabis Convo

Cannabis Convo is an online tool to help voters get involved in the 2020 referendum, and understand the issues and perspectives underpinning their choice on cannabis law reform. It aims to spark conversation in a fun and engaging way, while introducing users to new perspectives and different considerations.

On the Fence

On the Fence helps young undecided and first-time voters engage directly with issues. By matching users’ personal values with political candidates and parties, it builds political confidence. In 2014, On the Fence contributed to a 7% rise in youth voter participation in the New Zealand General Election.


VoteLocal is an online tool to help young New Zealanders engage in local body elections. It's aimed at empowering young, undecided, and first-time voters to become active civic participants by matching their personal values with those of the candidates vying for their support.


Flagpost is an online platform that enabled voting, discussion, and tagging of design submissions during the New Zealand Flag Consideration Process of 2015. It looked to offer a more inclusive, conversational and design-orientated way in which to participate in the process.

Ask Away

Ask Away enables New Zealand youth to set the political agenda. Users ask questions, promote or endorse other users’ questions, and receive answers from political candidates or parties. Voting for questions provides an un-intimidating, one-click way of participating in the political conversation, and also shows commitment by candidates who contribute answers.


Design+Democracy Project facilitates participatory discovery workshops, delivers design courses and commissioned reports on design-led civic participation. We have previously partnered with organisations including Inland Revenue, Stanford University d.School and Te Papa Tongarewa – the Museum of New Zealand. We welcome opportunities to collaborate.