California DMV Online Appointment System Redesign
Heuristic evaluation, usability testing, visual identity, wireframing, prototyping
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.
A frustrating scheduling process
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
A multi-page process with a progress tracker
One section at a time
The addition of the progress indicator
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
Reasoning information rearrangement
A graphical approach
“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.