News app: Seattle Times mayoral guide

It was a busy summer this year for Seattle Times news apps, with a fall lineup that's looking even busier. While I have a second to breathe this weekend, I'm catching up on writing posts about some of our notable summer projects. The mayoral guide is at the top of that list. It's one of the first projects we launched this summer, and also marked the first time we'd ever worked directly with a reporter, the talented Emily Heffter, on information gathering that was specific to a news app and completely independent of any kind of print product.

mayoral-guide
mayoral-guide

The goals

In a super-congested primary mayoral race, we wanted to give readers:

  • A way to easily, digestibly learn about each candidate on the ballot
  • A visual way to compare where each of the candidates stands on each of the major issues facing the city of Seattle
  • A home for primary coverage leading up to the election

How we did it

What resulted was a django app built off our legislative guide and the prior year's election guide. We built off the politician model to add candidate, people and issue models, setting the groundwork for what could be an extensive database of all candidates, campaign financing, vote totals, endorsements, etc. for Washington state.

mayoral-detail
mayoral-detail

We now have (though forgive the ugliness of them right now) a view for all election years, each election within the year, each race within the election, each candidate in the race, and both a race detail and candidate detail. See the potential now? API is next!

One of my favorite pieces of the app is the "issues" section, which visually breaks down where each candidate stands on an issue by displaying his/her mug in one of three categories that represents the common stances on major ballot issues. The tone of the guide was also a little more straight-talk than other political resources we've written, which made it more fun and approachable.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.56.38 PM
Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.56.38 PM

The entire app is, of course, responsive. It builds off a responsive grid that originally looked a lot like the 1140 grid system, but has since been extremely modified for our needs.  We're not doing anything fancy other than that. The hardest part of getting this thing out the door was building out the models to be as reusable as possible.

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.55.21 PM
Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 10.55.21 PM

Stay tuned for the general election version of the guide which launches sometime this week!