Running a Dot Voting Experiment at Creatorcon 2017

It's hard to prioritize and make decisions when you have a lot of great concepts for new projects. Usually used in business or design, dot voting is a way to make decisions while minimizing group think (or the tendency for individuals to go along with one influential person's opinion).However, any business can benefit from using a dot voting exercise to help prioritize their work. The bonus, it can help validate interest in those ideas and help keep you from working on a project that doesn't catch people's fancy enough to consider a purchase.

I used dot voting in the Artist's Alley at Creatorcon 2017 to help me prioritize my next comics project - and received valuable feedback from observing attendees interacting with my comic pitches.

My Dilemma

I've had three solid project ideas in my head for some time now, each fighting for space in my sketchbook - and wanting more time consuming attention like writing a sketch, thumbnailing, penciling, etc. Each is very different in content and concept than the other. However, each would be fun to work on to break from the depth and breadth of work that is Infinite Spiral.

 I prepared a pitch card for each prospective project.

I prepared a pitch card for each prospective project.

Read on for each comic's pitch!

B.A.G.s

When the world is in danger, there's no time for retirement. This group of grannies kicks monster butt with swords, magic, and mayhem. Forget rockers and walkers these are Bad A#% Grannies!

Adventures in Libraelogy

Some books bring fiction to life. Join the crotchety Libraelogist, his ... trusty ... squid, Squiddie, and an aspiring assistant on a quest to keep books of libraelogical interest in the right hands.

Kite Island

Piper is a human. Kai is a narperson. Their two worlds don't get along. When a  storm puts Piper on a Kite Boat alone, she'll wind up on the adventure of a lifetime ... one that may just bring Piper's world and Kai's world together.

The Experiment

When I arrived at Creatorcon, I set up my prints to be hung from two cube towers on either side of the table. In the center of the table I placed a piece of construction paper the staff had left. I then arranged sketches for each project, project labels and pitches, and post it notes on the table in front of me, where I could engage with passersby.

 I laid out the experiment with room for people to add their own sticky note for voting. It was tricky to have room for the images, stickies, pitches, and items for sale.

I laid out the experiment with room for people to add their own sticky note for voting. It was tricky to have room for the images, stickies, pitches, and items for sale.

I wanted to make sure the activity was clear. I added two signs that said "Place a sticky next to the comic I should do next". One was on the table where folks would be able to look down and read it.

 I added signage so that folks that didn't want to chat could read what to do.

I added signage so that folks that didn't want to chat could read what to do.

However, I wanted the sticky note voting to have an example. Thankfully, I had several fellow Square City Members at the event, so I asked one to go ahead and place a vote - to provide an example for the first few folks that would come join the experiment.

Reception was good. Some folks attending Creatorcon would read the sign, then grab a friend or child and say something like, "Hey, you can help her pick her next comic project!" Most folks, I had to grab. It was a simple hook - I could use the exact same line. Interestingly, almost everyone I engaged with chose to participate. There was no cost, it was rainy, it was interactive. I sense that the event being in a high school may have played into it as well - as attendees seemed to be staying for the afternoon to hang out with friends.

I could engage whole groups at a time as well. I was worried about group think, but only a couple participants tried to convince friends to change their vote. Interestingly, those friends were like "nope, I like this one." Most people were very decisive. Only a handful of people had trouble choosing "the project they found most interesting." The most common response in that case was, "oo, I like them all!"

It is important to note, I only read or described the pitches to children who seemed nervous about reading. That meant every reader had the same pitch when trying to make their decision!

Findings

From noon - 7pm I had 67 participants of all ages engage with my dot voting experiment. Most were women and teenage girls, but there were a fair number of children, teenage boys, and mens who engaged too. My assumption is that the artist's alley portion of the event attracted more women and the games portion of the event attracted more men. However, that's a big assumption.

Out of 67 participants:

  • 31 voted for B.A.G.s
  • 19 voted for Adventures in Libraelogy
  • 17 voted for Kite Island
  B.A.G.s  had nearly double the votes of the other two pitches throughout most of the day and came out as the winning pitch.

B.A.G.s had nearly double the votes of the other two pitches throughout most of the day and came out as the winning pitch.

B.A.G.s was the clear winner. However, that's not the only takeaway. Because I interacted with participants directly, I learned important market details about each prospective comic.

B.A.G.s

B.A.G.s was the crowd favorite by far. Men, women, teenagers, and children responded positively to this pitch. On more than one occasion, an individual would read that card and then slap their sticky down - as though the just didn't need to read anymore. "I have to go with grannies," and "Yeah, grannies should get to kick butt too," were common responses. A lot of participants would start laughing when reading the first sentence of the pitch.

Adventures in Libraelogy

Adventures in Libraelogy appealed to some interesting groups. One group was fellow comic artists and writers who saw a lot of opportunities to tell different stories under this premise. Another group was, to be honest, cephalopod lovers. Squiddie is going to steal the show in this comic. A third group was full of book lovers. The final group was noticeably children under the age of 12.

Kite Island

Kite Island may have had the lowest number votes, but it had the most consistent type of respondent (and during several points in the day overtook Adventures in Libraelogy). Almost all of the votes (but not all of the votes) came from tween and teenage girls. Many of those girls came off as introverts - they held themselves a little back from the table and were quiet. I'm a bit partial to this demographic, as I was an avid reader and writer when a teenager and there just wasn't a lot of great stories for girls (especially quiet ones) out there.

Thanks to these individual findings, I'm on my way to developing personas (a persona is a tool that uses research to create a profile of a typical customer or user to help guide decisions)  for each of these projects - but especially Kite Island and Adventures in Libraelogy, with the interesting patterns in who voted for those projects.

I know now my next project will be B.A.G.s, but each project has merit. I'll be thinking a lot on Kite Island especially, as I think there is a special group of people waiting for stories like it.

 Try your hand at dot voting with stickies! It is a great way to do some early audience research and prioritize your projects.

Try your hand at dot voting with stickies! It is a great way to do some early audience research and prioritize your projects.

Dot voting is a great experiment to conduct when you are stuck trying to prioritize your creative work. Give it a try or adjust my version and let me know how it goes!