Reimagining the Department of Licensing

User Experience, User Interface

The problem: The DOL is time-consuming, difficult to plan for, and confusing.

Users have to visit in person to complete many tasks, often with unneccessarily long wait times, even sometimes not being seen same day. Complex information is presented primarily on their website in a clunky and obscure way. Finally, the staff have a tough and uninspiring job and often don't have an incentive to be as kind or quick as we'd like them to be.

Our challenge was to create a Department of Licensing without offices, where most tasks can be completed solely online.


Research, UX, Wireframing, Prototyping


5 weeks


Dillon Sturtevant: UX, Interaction Patterns

Natalie Fajardo: UX, Identity, Prototyping

1 Research

We used online reviews of local DOLs as well as interviews to understand user's needs and painpoints:

—Experience with staff varies widely.

—Required Document List is a headache and user might need to come back again if they’ve misunderstood it.

—There aren't enough offices in the city, and sometimes users are required to take a long trip to the suburbs.

—Hours outside of normal work times (ie. weekends or evenings) are extremely limited.

“When I moved to Washington State from Canada I wasn’t able to get a social security card right away, Because of that, in order to get a first-time US license I had to go through a complex process of waiting for a phone call in a TWO WEEK period, which I could not miss (or I’d have to start the process over). After this I had to go to their office in Kent to have my documents verified, which is a pain to get to when you can’t drive there!” —Jenn C.

“If you’re trying to get an enhanced license or ID, you MUST arrive there BEFORE 1 PM! ...If they don’t call your number 90 minutes before they close, then you’re out of luck. They close at 4:30 every weekday (closed on weekends)... There were at least 10 people, trying to get their IDs enhanced when I came on a Tuesday afternoon. Most of them had to come back the next day, and wait in line again because they didn’t make it by the cutoff time. They had hours of their day, wasted... There isn’t parking nearby, unless you want to pay ridiculous garage fees."—Jen N."

Current DOL

We want to communicate the requirements in a much more user-friendly way, while still giving the user the ability to find details and a full list of identity document possibilities.

2 Our Users

There are many users and use cases to solve for in the DOL. We decided to focus on a person trying to get their driver's license for the first time, because it is one of the most involved use-cases. When we solve for a complex case, a lot of answeres are already there for simpler cases.

Fogell, 16

Fogell is working towards his first Driver’s License in Washington. He got his Learner’s Permit while brick-and-mortar DMVs still existed, and has now downloaded the new WA DOL app to continue on the road to being an independent driver.

Pain Points & Fears

—Failing the test
—Not being able to figure out how to complete all steps himself
—Long wait to get a test slot
—Trouble getting to the location
—Parents unsupportive or slow to help

3 Our Solution

A Washington Department of Licensing App accessible through phone, tablet, or desktop.

The DMV is closing and it’s the best thing ever, because we’re creating a new digital platform to cover all of the DMV tasks along with light-weight kiosks at local libraries. It will be cheaper, more convenient, more flexible. Our app functions as a task-management platform for all your motor vehicle needs. Public opinion will go way up. For driving tests, agents come to the user's neighborhood for a scheduled appointment with their agent kit.

“Like Slack meets Trello for Washington Drivers”

A Kanban-Inspired Home

Our user is pursuing his first license, so this homescreen is the workspace for a first-time license. He has five tasks to complete. When a task is started the app will move it to the middle “In-Progress” column. When a task is complete the app will move it to the right. The driving test cannot be scheduled until the other tasks are all complete. This is our solution for helping the user understand what he has to complete at-a-glance, a huge improvement over the DOL’s current way of sharing this information.

Agent Kit

All items will fit into a standard-sized briefcase


The DOL agent will pull up the test taker’s profile and grade them on the WA DOL app platform via the tablet.

Vision Test VR Headset

The DOL agent has the headset loaded with a smartphone-based vision test app. Users will perform the vision test while they are seated in the car, before taking the driving test.

Portable ID Printer

Portable ID Printer.


Users utilize a lightweight kiosk at their local public library to take their official license photo (which helps confirm identity) and to meet the DOL agent who will proctor their test. There are also iPads at the kiosk running the WA DOL app for users that aren’t able to use their own device to access the DOL.

While we received some feedback that there should be no physical space component, we felt that inclusivity and accessibility was paramount for a solution with so many use-cases and users.

Identity Documents

One of the most complex parts of using the DOL is identity documentation, because of the wide variety of possible docs and the "if, then logic" based on what user's best documents are. We broke it down into digestible categories, and we believe our upload system significantly simplifies and eases a touchpoint currently full of pain.

Contextual Tutorials

We utilize brief contextual tutorials in various parts of the app, notably here, to inform and guide users through the process.

More information coming soon!