Testing the Pulse

The vision of The Pulse of is constantly evolving and solidifying. This past week we were lucky enough to share our vision in front of an audience and simulate the concept with real users.

Our goal for this week was to define and create for users the “magic moment”. In our case, this is the moment when a user (or rather, resident of Austin) learns something they didn’t know before and has an “Oh, wow” moment. This is the point in time they start considering their city in a way they hadn’t before.

The magic moment is crucial because it’s also the catalyst that kicks off our larger theory of change.

User Testing

We invited a few people to meet us at a coffeeshop, and they answered a few questions about themselves prior to our meeting.

What neighborhood do you live in? 

How do you travel to work?

What places in Austin are important to you?

Knowing a few things about the users allowed us to create some content to share with them that felt personal. We created personalized maps that correlated with small info cards and the users were able to “click” on the map and then read the cards.


“Is this really who my representative is? I had no idea.”


It was neat to see how people responded to information, what they already knew and what was new to them.


Testing Phase Two

Our next round of testing will more closely simulate the experience one would have actually using the app. We will be sending out text messages to users once a day giving them different types of content. We want to see how users will respond to:

  1. Content that relates to locations nearby
  2. Content they can “vote” on
  3. Content they can respond to with an emotion

Most importantly we hope to track how many of the testers respond back to us and find the messages valuable. If it doesn’t feel valuable, or worse, it feels bothersome, then we will have to find another way to get people to care about local government.

Recruiting Users

We decided to launch an ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram. We are trying out several versions as experiments, to see what people respond to.



Beyond just gauging interest we believe these ads will be hugely valuable in sussing out where to find our early adopters. We still hold a major assumption that people would download an app to learn about civic matters. So making some of the ads “app centric” will help us test out that idea.


Today we met with a developer. Actually building this as a native app would be a huge time and financial investment. Although anything less strays from the original vision, time and money are two commodities we don’t have a lot of. Luckily there are other ways we can build this product and we are exploring which option is best.

Stay tuned to hear the update next week on which path we are choosing.