Updated: Feb 26
What is Dot Voting?
Dot voting is a simple and effective method of gathering feedback and prioritizing ideas, often used in design, innovation, and agile development. In dot voting, participants are given a set number of stickers, dots, or markers and asked to place them on a board, chart, or list of options to indicate their preferences, interests, or priorities. The dots can be of different colors or sizes, or can be limited to a certain number per person, to allow for different levels of influence or diversity of opinions.
History of Dot Voting
The history of dot voting can be traced back to various cultures and contexts, but its modern form can be attributed to the work of Tom Wujec, a Canadian designer and innovation expert. In the early 2000s, Wujec was working on a project to help teams brainstorm and prioritize ideas for new products and services. He experimented with various methods of visualization and feedback, including post-it notes, index cards, and markers, but found them too messy or time-consuming. He then came up with the idea of using stickers or dots, inspired by the way people vote in elections or surveys.
Wujec's dot voting method became popular in the design and innovation community, and was further developed and adapted by other practitioners and researchers. For example, David Sibbet, a graphic facilitator and author, introduced the concept of "sticky walls" and "graphic templates" to make dot voting more visual and interactive. Jake Knapp, a product designer and author, included dot voting as a key activity in his "design sprint" process, which aims to accelerate the development of new ideas and prototypes.
Why Do Teams Use Dot Voting?
The advantages of dot voting are many and varied, and can be summarized as follows:
Dot voting allows participants to express their opinions and preferences in a simple and tangible way, which can increase their sense of ownership and involvement in the process. It also encourages them to listen to others and learn from different perspectives, as they can see how others are voting and why.
Efficient Use of Meeting Time
Dot voting is a quick and easy method of gathering feedback and prioritizing ideas, especially when time and resources are limited. It can be done in person or remotely, and can be adapted to different formats and settings. It also generates a visual summary of the results, which can be used to guide further discussion and decision-making.
Fairness in Decision Making
Dot voting can accommodate different types of inputs and preferences, and can reveal hidden or emergent patterns in the data. For example, it can highlight the most popular or controversial ideas, or the areas of consensus or disagreement. It can also facilitate the inclusion of marginalized or minority voices, as each dot carries the same weight regardless of who placed it.
Use Case Flexibility
Dot voting can be customized and adapted to suit different needs and contexts, depending on the number of participants, the scope of the topic, and the level of detail required. For example, it can be used to prioritize features or issues in a product, to select topics or speakers for a conference, or to evaluate proposals or solutions for a problem.
Disadvantages of Using Dot Voting to Rank Options
Despite its advantages, dot voting also has some disadvantages and limitations, which should be taken into account when using it:
Visualization & Public Bias
Dot voting can be influenced by various factors, such as the order, wording, or framing of the options, the size or color of the dots, or the social dynamics of the group. For example, the first or last option on the list may receive more or less votes than the others, or the options that are more familiar or attractive may receive more votes than the others.
Moreover, some participants may be more assertive or persuasive than others, and may sway the results in their favor. By making these votes in the open view of others, participants may feel pressured to follow the group's opinions rather than their own. Ranking options privately using RumbleRank is a useful alternative.
The Possibility of a Tie
Whether your group is of an even or odd number of participants, it's not uncommon for the top options to receive the same number of votes resulting in a tie. How are you supposed to establish tie-breakers? That's where a tool like RumbleRank comes into play.
Advantages of Using RumbleRank to Rank List Options
Rank Your List Priorities Privately
Whether through email distribution or the sharing of a list link, participants using RumbleRank get the opportunity to both rank the options at hand privately - and carefully consider each option through a game of head-to-head matchups. The entire team can still make their decisions in the same room using a mobile device or personal computer, but are no longer under the "groupthink" pressure of placing votes in front of their peers.
No Need for Tie-Breakers
By allowing participants to use the RumbleRank tree sort algorithm, their final results will all be aggregated in several different ways to calculate the group's definitive ranking. While their may still be a small chance for an outright tie in each statistical category, the probability of that happening is much, much lower than dot voting due to the way data is collected.
Instead of counting dots, RumbleRank organizes the group list by adding up the final results for every participant's results into an aggregate ranking. It can even reveal which decisions were the hardest for the group to make on average using a matchup timer.
See an example of results from a group's list ranking using RumbleRank below:
Creating a Free Account on RumbleRank
Creating your free account on RumbleRank is easy and it only requires an email address. Follow the button below to sign up. Free accounts can create up to five active lists at a time and collect up to 25 respondent rankings from each list.
If you need more for your team, upgrading your account to Unlimited provides the following additional benefits for just $25 per month:
Enjoy the tool ad free
Create an UNLIMITED number of lists and get an UNLIMITED amount of responses
Replace the RumbleRank logo and color scheme to your own logo and theme
Generate QR codes to share lists quickly with anyone
Download additional data points to track decision timers between head to head options
Other Use Cases for RumbleRank
Dot voting isn't the only use for RumbleRank. Share lists with family, friends or co-workers to accomplish things like:
Choosing a restaurant on the weekend
Picking company logo design concepts
Ranking TV shows & movies
Creating engaging social media polls
Stack ranking for remote agile teams
Looking for inspiration? Check out our use case articles for both personal and business scenarios (or just for fun) for group list ranking ideas.