Lengthy Tasks

California DMV Online Appointment System Redesign


Product Designer


Heuristic evaluation, usability testing, visual identity, wireframing, prototyping


Individual Project


4 Weeks


To reduce friction and confusing during the scheduling process, this conceptual redesign of the California DMV online appointment system aims to help the user to schedule appointments as smooth as possible. It was an individual project for Product Design Studio at UC Berkeley School of Information in the fall of 2018.

View Final Result
The Problem

A frustrating scheduling process

Illustrative Image

Have you ever had a difficult time finding a DMV office with ideal availability and location on the official website?

The California DMV office encourages the general public to book appointments through their website before they visit to reduce waiting time at the office. However, many people experienced frictions and confusion during their scheduling process. Their frustrations could make users quit the scheduling process and test their luck waiting in line in the offices. If the appointment scheduling process can be improved, people would be more willing to complete the reservation and reduce the clutter in the DMV office.

Current Home Page of the California DMV Website

The Objective

Creating a smooth scheduling experience

To increase the number of appointment schedules online, the DMV has to reduce the friction and confusion during the current scheduling process.

How might we assist users decision-making process in a digestible fashion?
Scope of the project

Focusing on design execution on generic users

As the first project of the course, the instructor asked us to focus more on the design execution, so assumptions for user research were acceptable. We are also tasked to design for users with the following qualifications:

Preliminary Research

Finding out pain points through usability testing

Although assumptions were acceptable, I still conducted four usability testings and interviews with people (some with prior DMV experience, some not) on the current website. I also performed a heuristic evaluation of the scheduling process.

Preliminary Research Insight

Lack of progress tracker and confusing order

There was no indication of where the users at nor how many steps remain in the process. Without a sense of progress, users might be reluctant to finish the scheduling procedure. Also, I noticed that users went back to change the number of “items” after reading the reasoning section below. This behavior suggested that the order of the form might not be optimal.

Static searching function

The current DMV office locator on the website only shows a static map of all the California offices. There was no indication of where the users were nor any additional information such as the next availability to assist users’ decision. Some users had to Google the closest office near them before they continue the process.

Unclear and text-heavy reasoning section

Other common pain points mentioned by the users were the amount of text in the reasoning section. Users were also confused and asked questions like “does apply, replace, or renew an ID count as an item?” My assumption was that information has to be presented as explicit as possible as a government website to reduce confusion. However, this could also result in a visually unpleasing experience.

Design Principles

To be explicit and flexible

With insights from the research, I came up with the following design principles for the rest of the design process.

  • Clarity

    To minimize the confusion on a government-run website, I wanted to ensure the scheduling process is easy to digest for the users. From the order of the form, progress trackers, to the amount of text on a page, the product should be designed in an explicit yet concise fashion.

  • Flexibility

    For users with different needs (urgency vs. convenience), I wanted to redesign the process to offer them various options while finalizing their appointment. 


Rapid prototyping with paper sketches

Following the design principles, I sketched out some explorations to gain initial feedback from users for each step of the procedure. I also conducted user testing to decide the ideal order of the scheduling process.

Initial sketches for prototyping

Final Results

A multi-page process with a progress tracker

One section at a time

The long form-filling process was broken down into multiple pages with a progress bar. It redesign reduces the amount of information on a single page and increase user engagement.

The addition of the progress indicator

Users will be able to tell where they are in the process by checking the progress bar on the top of the page.

Interactive tools for searching location and time

Interactive and informative map

Based on the users’ location, the map would be able to identify the nearest DMV office for the users. For each office, users can also see the estimated waiting time, which could increase their willingness to complete the online appointment.

Visual scheduling system

Through a calendar that features available appointment slots, users can find availability in a glance. In addition, the first available slot is selected by default for quick completion.

An alternative filter that considers both location and availability

For users who want to find the fastest availability within an accessible distance at once, there is an alternative. Users can see all the first availabilities at different DMV offices to make their decision.

Reasoning information rearrangement

A graphical approach

To make the information more approachable, I used icons to illustrate the categories. I also used the yellow bear icon to grasp the users’ attention to Real ID.

Precise selections

By checking the boxes for each option, users can know what services they are reserving at the DMV office. This summary could also provide the offices’ details of the appointment as well.

Automated Summary

The number of items selected for the appointment will be automatically displayed at the bottom, so the users do not have to update their requests manually.

Final Feedback
“A lot of great concepts in the overall design. The key design changes came through (progress indicator, visual search, re-ordering the flow) as well as some nice smaller improvements (visual emphasis on appointment vs. non-appointment).”
— James Reffell, Instructor & Design Director at Clever

A solid first attempt at product design

Focusing on improving a singular user flow, I was able to get a first taste of being a product designer. I learned more about iterating based on users feedback over two rounds of testing.

Considering other factors in the future

However, I would like to take on more considerations (responsive design, accessibility, etc.) with more in-depth research into the design process in the future.