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On wireframe, prototypes and E-democracy

Using wireframe or prototypes to create E-government applications would help engaging more citizens in the business of politics.

According to UN´s last E-Government survey 2010, governments all over the world have made significant efforts to increase citizen participation and access to political affairs through the internet.

The survey states that during the last 2 years (the last survey dating back to 2008), E-participation has increased everywhere, even in least developed countries. Authors further argue that in the current context of world financial and economic crisis, governments can take advantage of new technologies like the internet to gain transparency by sharing freely their data bases with the public. Following the same idea, e-government can be significantly more efficient when it comes to public services, thus helping governments to respond and react more quickly.

The usability of governments´ applications is thus fundamental to increase the public access and participation. One way to achieve it could be to involve citizens in the definition process like when making wireframe or prototypes of apps, as they will be the final users.

Gathering user feedback on the usability of an app before its development is essential to its success, and this is probably even truer when it comes to online citizen participation. On the one hand, apps have to answer the needs of citizens. On the other hand, these programs have to be comprehensive and easy to use, so that users can understand what to do right away.

Involving citizens as users in the wireframing and prototyping process could thus benefit both citizens and governments. Publishing functional prototypes would let the very final users (citizens) test and comment a future app. The very citizens, the targeted audience, would be the ones defining and validating apps of their public institutions. This system would show a true e-democracy as institutions are supposed to be working for the people.

Communication between institutions and citizens would thus become more “agile” and the public would regain trust in political institutions, often seen as oblivious of the people´s reality. But more than just improving political participation and communication, the use of prototype would also increase productivity by avoiding long and expensive rework loads.

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