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Election website nominated for 'Oscars of the Internet'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

On The Fence - an interactive web tool devised by Massey design students - has been nominated for a Webby Award. The Webby’s are the annual awards for excellence on the Internet, with nominees selected by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

On The Fence is the only non-American nomination in the People’s Voice category of ‘political blog/websites’. The web tool started life in 2011 as a student design project to help young undecided and first-time voters to make informed electoral choices and transform disengaged youth into active civic participants. Users indicate how they feel about a selection of issues statements, to find out which political parties most closely reflect their views.

In 2014, Massey University’s Design and Democracy Project, part of design studio Open Lab, partnered with Springload, an award-winning New Zealand web company, to redevelop the tool based on user feedback.

The other four nominees in the political blog/websites category are Rolling Stone magazine’s online coverage of America’s Gun Violence Epidemic, and US political news/commentary sites, truthdig, and politico. Winners of The Webby’s People Voice awards are determined by the number of popular votes nominees receive.

Springload managing director Bron Thomson says the company is delighted at the nomination. "The biggest challenge of this project was creating a smart back-end; we redeveloped the tool with the future in mind so it is easy to swap out the sheep and the Kiwi slang for something else culturally appropriate in other countries around the world. We see this tool as having an international appeal."

In the 2014 General Election, On The Fence encouraged 30,000 non-voting 18-34 year olds to vote, representing 7% of the total eligible youth population.

Director of the Design and Democracy Project, Karl Kane, says On The Fence helps meet the need for non-partisan information about political options. "Young people are not politically apathetic but they aren’t voting - there’s a difference. Party-political tribalism and spin is a turn-off for them; they want to make values-based choices. That is why On The Fence puts issues first and asks people to think about what they believe."

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