Masters of Design: Marcia Lausen

Founding member, AIGA Design for Democracy

If you doubt that design matters, ask Al Gore. A study by eight news organizations following the disastrous 2000 presidential election found that poor ballot design cost Gore anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 votes in Florida, more than enough to clinch the election. Enter Marcia Lausen, principal of Chicago’s Studio/lab. Shortly after the 2000 debacle, she helped launch an initiative called Design for Democracy, which seeks nothing less than to redesign the entire voting experience, from voter education to poll-worker training. Lausen has redesigned ballots for Cook County in Illinois and for the state of Oregon, creating clean, easy-to-use forms out of dense, confusing government documents. “Thinking that ‘design’ means ‘decoration,’ most election officials do not enlist professional designers in the development process,” says Lausen. Maybe she should consider making a trip to Florida right now.

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These five ideas will help you incorporate design principles in your work — and better connect with customers and colleagues.