Every five years, Ontarians must renew their driver’s licence and health card to maintain their benefits.
Ontario’s online renewal platforms were meant to provide an efficient
alternative to the in-person process. Instead, the service’s incoherence and
exclusion of those who do not have a driver's licence left thousands of users
frustrated and confused.
I was part of an ambitious project to redesign Ontario’s renewal experience for its over 5 million annual users.
Mondays were focused on user research, Tuesdays and Wednesdays on prototyping, Thursdays on user testing, and Fridays on presenting our findings.
To ensure thorough and clear communication, every day began with a stand-up and ended with a check-in.
|Product thinking||1 lab leader||Figma, Balsamiq||Sept. to Oct. 2019|
|Prototyping||1 lead designer||Miro, React||(5 weekly sprints)|
|User research||2 developers|
|Developer handoff||2 product designers (incl. me)|
During our team's initial meetings with the current stakeholders of the renewal platforms, we were informed that on each of the platforms, there was a Rate Our Service form that users could fill and submit.
Seeing that analyzing this direct and honest feedback would be one of the best ways for our team could begin to empathize with the frustrations of these users, our team seized this opportunity and efficiently categorized over 1,593 submissions based on topic and frequency.
Our team then identified the most prominent complaints and focused our future redesign efforts on amending these pain points.
|Gather data||Analyze feedback||Identify pain points|
|1,593 feedback submissions||3 pain points|
From our discussions with subject matter experts and analysis of raw user feedback, our team diagnosed three major issues with the current service:
"The system only works if you are renewing both [of your cards] at the same time. This means I have to go to a ServiceOntario centre for my health card just because I do not drive. I'm very disappointed."
"If you did not click the correct link at first, it was very difficult to find the option to renew just your driver's licence and not your health card."
Combine the standalone and integrated services into a universal renewal service
"After I entered my driver's licence information, I was told I was ineligible without indication of the reason. If I am considered ineligible to renew online, please tell me why."
"My renewal was denied and I was not given any reason besides 'you're not eligible'. I think the government owes more explanation when it denies a service to a citizen."
Explain the reason of all errors and clearly outline next steps
"Had to enter my name thrice and address at twice after I had already selected that there have been no changes. Very annoying!"
"It wasn't clear on the site when I need to get a new photo in-person. A line of added text on this topic in the instructions would be useful."
Reduce the repetitive input of information and simplify language
View the complete research process including site audit, journey maps, premortem, stakeholder analysis, and jurisdictional analysis here.
Considering how one of our product owner's primary concerns when approaching this project was that our redesign's scope would be too large, our team approached our problem definition with a divergent and convergent thinking process.
From our initial research, my fellow product designer and I ideated a diverse set of solutions to users' current problems.
Whether it was further improving the effectiveness of help modals, reassuring the user of the information they input, or optimizing the Ontario.ca topic page's representation of renewal services, this divergence in our brainstorming then allowed us to converge upon a single problem statement:
We have observed that the ServiceOntario online renewal flows are not meeting user needs, which is causing low completion rates, negative user feedback, inclusion concerns, and low uptake on digital services.
How might we design a one-window digital renewal transaction flow that promotes usability and inclusion by reducing time on task and increasing positive feedback on eligibility?
Especially with a renewal service, there is certainly no lack in the number of paths, exceptions, and errors that a user can take to encounter along their journey.
Thus, we first highlighted the requirements that a user would need to meet to successfully renew their driver's licence or health card.
Then, to emphasize an easy and effortless central flow in our redesign, we identified the key set of steps that a user would take to successfully renew their driver's licence or health card.
User visits platform
Receives their renewed identity card!
Our team individually sketched user flows and interfaces in five-minute brainstorming sessions and presented our designs to the group.
We then combined the strengths of our ideas into a final user flow that represented our team’s vision of the redesigned renewal service’s golden path.
With our lead designer, my fellow product designer and I then created a low-fidelity Balsamiq prototype that simulated this ideated flow.
Equipped with a low-fidelity prototype of our redesigned renewal platform's ideal user journey, my fellow designers and I traveled to the heart of downtown Toronto to conduct guerilla user testing.
|Lead designer and two product designers||Eight 15-minute interviews||Balsamiq prototype on iPad||777 Bay St. ServiceOntario|
This ServiceOntario location was the busiest in the entire province!
Yes, we aimed to talk to demographics who were less familiar with technology, such as seniors.
If our solution made sense to them, then hopefully it would make sense to everyone else!
Our team then synthesized our findings into prototype iterations to consider in next week's sprint. Here are some highlights:
For our second iteration, our team considered a more realistic approach for our redesign - it was time to integrate in error states and eligibility complexities. Thus, we once again collaborated with stakeholders to ensure that our solution would be able to encompass all of the necessary technical requirements of the previous platform.
It was time for our second round of guerilla user testing sessions! This time, having gained more confidence and practice for the user research methodology, my fellow product designer and I went by ourselves.
|Two product designers||Eight 15-minute interviews||Balsamiq prototype on iPad|
Equipped with a much more comprehensive prototype, we were able to gather a richer understanding of the end users' reactions to our newly designed ineligibility errors and transaction summary page.
Halfway through our engagement, it was time for our team to translate our Balsamiq prototype to Figma.
With ten facilitations of guerilla usability testing sessions under my belt, it was time to help a developer teammate learn these key user research principles during our third round of user testing!
Yes! After two rounds of guerilla user testing, my fellow product designer and I were expected to train the lab's developers
|One product designer and one developer||Nine 15-minute interviews||Figma prototype on iPad|
Once again, one of our dominant issues was a lack of clarity in the content used in our design. Now with a month of experience in the problem space, our team likely had become so familiar with government terminology that we had not considered how confusing its use would be to our user base.
We noted these findings, and after presenting them at our weekly show and tell, we were able to work with our content designer to implement their feedback.
In our discussions at the beginning of this engagement, one of the most urgent requests brought up by stakeholders was for us to integrate the renewal of the Ontario Photo Card into the platform.
Ontario photo cards help provide valid identification for over 1.5 million Ontarians who do not drive.
There is no online platform for renewal of an Ontario photo card or renewal of a health card using an Ontario photo card.
This is an accessibility issue for those who are unable to access renewal centres or who need to renew their health card.
Once again, our team collaborated with stakeholders to define the ideal user journey and document the complexities of the in-person renewal service to effectively translate this process into a efficient online process.
Here was our Figma prototype in our fourth weekly sprint:
Though only my fellow product designer and a developer conducted this final set of guerilla user tests, I was nevertheless was instrumental in integrating the gathered feedback into our prototype.
For this iteration, our team learned the importance of taking the vertical restriction of a mobile user interface into account in our coded prototype.
Though we were unable to present our final prototype to the executives of the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Health that we were partnering with, we still were able to summarize our reasoning and display our prototype to our product owners.
After our presentation, one of the product owners stated:
Jayden understands complex nuances quickly and thinks in a user-centric way. He is excellent at trying something, getting valuable input from real users, iterating, and documenting findings. Beyond great results, it's a pleasure to work and collaborate with him. He's a quick study and also a collaborative partner with subject matter experts.
Working in the Ontario Digital Service Kitchener-Waterloo Lab was an unforgettable experience. Not only did projects such as this allow me to exponentially grow my skillset through exposure to unique, enterprise-level opportunities, but this small but mighty team of six taught me how to enjoy every second of it!
Despite this growth, I still recognize that my designs and process are far from perfect. In the spirit of our team's weekly retrospectives, here are my three areas of future improvement:
No matter how confident I felt in my assumptions about the problem space, that's all they were - assumptions. This project reinforced my belief in the importance of user feedback to ensure that our prototype met real-world expectations and needs.
Despite my extroversion, I remember how uncomfortable I was during our first guerilla user testing session. However, once I approached that first stranger and successfully conducted an interview, I recognized the situation as an opportunity to learn. While it will be frightening, I hope to approach future situations with a similar eagerness to explore.
When our team was told that we had a week to create a prototype with Balsamiq, an application that I had never used before, I knew that I was up for a challenge. After experiencing rapid growth in my skillset as a result of this short time frame, I have recognized that learning thrives in difficulty.