Changing the face of elections

thirteen23’s digital strategy for Obama for America re-imagined grassroots campaigning, lowering the barrier of entry and empowering people to take action.

001. Brief

Create a digital strategy that would “get out the vote” while also supporting real-time information and location-based field directives from campaign headquarters.

002. Solution

A set of mobile applications that foster political participation and support Obama’s large base of volunteers and grassroots supporters.

003. Outcome

By focusing on its ground game, the campaign was able to make strategic gains in key battleground states, helping secure the President’s re-election.

It’s been the science-fiction dream of political operatives for years: an army of volunteers, connected to the Internet as they walk from door to door, looking up names on a device and entering their responses electronically. Obama’s campaign [has made it] a reality with the release of a new iPhone app that will replace the ubiquitous clipboard for Democratic canvassers.



Our mobile strategy centered on the needs of highly-engaged volunteers while still accounting for those new to the campaign. Since the campaign already had a strong online presence, we focused on providing a robust set of tools for those hitting the pavement every day.
Real time


Another design goal was to make the sharing of news, information, events, and talking points as streamlined as possible. The value of communication in any industry is greatly enhanced when the messenger is not only associated with the organization, but is a family member, friend, or colleague.
I found ‘Obama for America’ genuinely useful — for news about the campaign’s message, especially. It’s so simple that it seemed like something designed for the National Gallery in Washington — like an immaculate, government-stamped design.
Digital canvassing


Few projects have access to the audiences that a national political campaign has to offer. Our goal was to leverage that passion by empowering volunteers with state-of-the-art tools, enabling them to communicate instantly, directly from the field. By creating a distributed network of volunteers, we reduced the need for hard infrastructure, making the campaign to more efficient and more effective.
Mobile donations


By simply downloading the application anyone could join the campaign, become a field volunteer, collect donations, register voters, or go door-to-door. Supporters could also donate directly through the apps with Obama for America being the first campaign ever to accept donations using SMS. Broadening the ways people could participate and contribute further strengthened the foundation of the campaign.

Rapid development

To hit the campaign’s heightened schedule, our design and technology teams worked side-by-side to accomplish its ambitious list of features. Working directly with headquarters, we integrated the campaign's massive infrastructure. Speed was essential, as was the need for perfection — a single spelling error could dominate a news cycle.


Understanding the campaign’s message, its volunteers, and the habits of prospective voters was critical to the success of the project. We were less concerned with coming up with novel forms of interaction and more concerned with bridging the gap between information, people, and communities. Our charter was to create a mobile platform that encouraged and empowered citizens to participate in their local election process.


Mobile computing has the distinct opportunity to increase political participation, to improve government transparency, and to make our elected officials more accountable. By demystifying the political process and making information more accessible, not only can we improve our nation’s political dialogue, we can make it more inclusive.
What better way to begin than to help re-imagine the political process?
Elections will never be the same.


  • Interaction Awards
  • Core 77 Design Awards
  • International Design Excellence Awards 2013
  • The New York Times
  • Wired
  • CNN
  • Politico
  • Techcrunch