When was the last time you interacted with your local council?
For many it’s ‘roads, rates, and rubbish’ – there are literally hundreds of services that require residents and ratepayers to transact with their local government. Each one can have multiple interactions with the potential to cause challenges when they are needed least.
The City of Melbourne engaged Thick to help them better understand their relationship with their customers and build a working prototype for a single digital interface – a online portal for completing a range of transactions.
The existing digital service offering was fairly poor by modern standards. For many people, visiting in person was significantly more efficient. A goal was to make the digital solution as good or better than the in-person experience.
We selected four key services to begin user research and prototyping: garbage collection, parking permits, joining a library and paying rates.
By building four diverse transactions from start to finish, and testing them with real people, we could gain a deep understanding of what worked and what didn’t.
The project commenced with one round of in-depth interviews to understand the digital preferences of citizens.
Initial research indicated that people were already overwhelmed by the number of accounts they possess. The low frequency, low importance, and small quantity of data to input also meant that an account would serve no benefit and would instead create a barrier to usage.
These findings influenced the creation of rough paper prototypes on mobile device templates. Paper prototypes are ideal options for rapid ideation and validation as they are cost effective, quick to make, and easy for the research participants to handle.
We followed with two rounds of user testing. We began with paper prototypes but quickly moved to a working, clickable alpha prototype, built complete with error messaging, form validation and SMS notifications.
We synthesised the learnings from our research to develop ‘design principles’ tailored for the City of Melbourne. These principles will govern the design of future customer experiences by translating customers’ needs into actions.
The project successfully helped City of Melbourne shift from a singular focus on building a ‘secure online account’ to a more holistic consideration of how their customer might benefit from a single digital interface.
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