Project Summary

A Code for America project to gather user research and test data on the 2020 Census internet response form for the U.S. Census Bureau. Working alongside two other designers I led the creation of the testing prototype and testing efforts in Oakland, CA (one of four cities selected for the project).


  • UI Production
  • User Research
  • Team Leader
  • Report Co-Author



Feb – Mar, 2020

Recreating The Digital Census Form

In order to gather the research and test data for the project required an interactive copy of the digital form. However, for reasons beyond our control, the U.S. Census Bureau could not provide our team with access to the official form. The best we could get was a Youtube video of a demonstration of the digital form that had been presented to a panel of experts in late 2019.

I scoured the 4 hours of video demo footage to find every single unique view of content in the digital Census form. Every time I found a unique view I saved a screenshot. I created a labeling system for identifying the relative sequence of each screenshot. The result was a collection of over 50 screen views ordered sequentially.

Screenshots of the digital Census form demo.

From Screenshots To Interactive Prototype (Over A Weekend)

The full set of screens, and their interactive links (blue lines), in our prototype of the Census form.

Using our sequential set of screenshots as a foundation two other UX designers and I created an interactive prototype of the Census form over the course of a 3-day weekend. The labeling system I applied to the screenshot sequences made it easy to organize the interactions between Figma frames.

Our Figma prototype can be viewed here.

User Research & Testing

A test participant interacts with the digital Census form.

I lead a user research and testing program that included several different studies across a number of community centers. Each research study involved 1-2 participants and 1-2 facilitators at at time. Sessions lasted between 30-60 minutes each. Test participants were asked a series of questions as they went through the process of completing the replica Census form.

Final Report To The U.S. Census Bureau

The project concluded in a summary report of our research findings of which I was a co-author. The report was delivered to the U.S. Census Bureau as well as the various County departments that participated in the research studies. I contributed the following top-line recommendations to the report:


  • Clarify which questions are mandatory or optional
  • Raise awareness of existing resources (ex. language guides)
  • Raise awareness of most challenging questions
  • Provide additional clarification and guidance for most challenging questions
  • Share these findings, and any relevant support, with questionnaire assistance centers and other community organizations offering Census support
  • Encourage community sites to make support resources available at the point of access to digital or paper forms