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Decidim Design Manifesto

Avatar: Decidim Product
Decidim Product

From the Decidim project we initiate a process of redesigning the platform. We are rethinking the approach to achieve some of its maxims, such as the popularization and generalization of participation and democracy in its broadest sense. And we’ll do it with criteria of justice in the design process (with an intersectional look, taking into account the different inequalities to be faced: gender, origin, class). At the same time, the redesign of Decidim, and following the principles of the project, must comply with the criteria of openness, inclusiveness, proximity, accessibility, diversity, flexibility, making the platform a hybrid space ( digital/face-to-face) that meets the challenges of the digital society and the democratic empowerment of citizens, groups and social organizations, and ultimately, of the participants.

Decidim's redesign: the participant's experience (PX)

The Decidim platform is already used in 30 countries around the world and today has almost 400 active instances. Being a free software project, and thanks to its modular architecture and distributed growth model, it has spread to a large number of countries, which have adapted, transformed and contributed to it according to their organizational and communicational needs.

In order to qualitatively and quantitatively improve the usability, design and communication of the platform, it is necessary to meet the needs of an application such as Decidim, which seeks to maximize and facilitate participation at all levels, and to meet the flexibility and modularity of the project.

That is why we build from the experience of the participant, where the person is not a user or a consumer, but has a proactive role and where the value lies in his or her role as a participant, as a person active in participation, as a person who takes part in a democratic process. Therefore this experience has to be fair, equitable, inclusive, close, friendly, and hence it has to be neither addictive, nor discriminatory, and participability has to be at the center of the design process.

This process is framed in two development projects that run in parallel:

  • The development of the Decidim mobile app (Progressive Web App): 2022.
  • The redesign project of the entire Decidim platform: 2021-2023.

To carry them out, we are working in two complementary directions that are fundamental to the project:

The principles: “participability first”

Listed below are the principles that should guide the redesign process. This manifesto is alive, in a process of continuous improvement, but initially includes some of the principles that we have identified as essential and that must act as requirements when thinking, testing, designing, developing and deploying the design.

  • Participability: centrality of the interaction versus the consumption of information, and centrality of the participatory purpose of the action and interaction.
  • Intersectionality: incorporation of diverse perspectives (gender, origin, class,...) in the design process, which does not impose dominant views and perspectives and which contemplates this diversity from the beginning, in terms of addressing the existing inequalities in each of these areas, and adding the perspective of equality and equity.
  • Inclusivity and accessibility: designs must be inclusive, intuitive and accessible for diverse forms of interaction with a digital platform such as Decidim.
  • Flexibility: as the uses and deployments of Decidim in relation to design are flexible, the decisions that affect all the instances must take into account the flexibility and customization of each of the instances. At the same time, new device formats, especially mobile devices, must always be taken into account.
  • Simplicity: as a fundamental principle. Less is more. Decidim is a complex project, and an installation can have many active elements, therefore the design has to reduce this complexity, organize it and allow its hierarchy.
  • Openness and standardization: Decidim is a free software project, its design has to be open, it has to use open standards, libraries, patterns, images, etc. with open licenses.

Methodology: Open design / participated design

The redesign process of the Decidim platform, as well as all its development, will be done in an open way and following agile work methodologies, which facilitates both the rapid execution and testing of developments, as well as continuous improvement. A trial and error applied not only to software development but also to its design and usability.

The Decidim project has a huge international community that contributes and participates in the project. For this redesign process we have designed a participation process that seeks to involve the community in different stages and moments of the process. Therefore, different general debates will be opened, open work sessions will be held, experts will be invited and specific debates will be generated from initial design proposals or drafts. At the same time, participant tests will also be carried out with the aim of testing the deployment of the new designs in real time.


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