The Ontario Government traditionally sends out paper notices to Ontarians when items like driver licences and licence plates are about to expire. But unfortunately mailed reminders don’t fully reach all of the province’s population in time for them to renew. This ends up with Ontarians incurring fees and penalties that come with using expired items unknowingly. In response to this issue, we started to ask ‘how can we notify Ontarians on time that they need to renew their products’? offered an email reminder sign up for driver licence and licence plates, however, analytic data showed extremely low uptake. Feedback surrounding the service highlighted the need for more products and contact options and better site usability. We worked collaboratively to address these user needs and have launched a new digital reminder service for all Ontarians. 

visit live product →
Stamping down the problem 

We were briefed that this project is part of a broader effort to update notification services across our organization. As a result, my team was provided discovery user research and initial prototype mockups by the previous research team. I took some time to dig deep into the problem domain of redesigning the reminder sign up in the context of the larger notification system.  

From reviewing the background context and engaging our full product team we co-wrote this problem statement with our target KPIs:

"We have observed the current digital reminder sign up is not meeting Ontarians' need for timely/relevant reminder information which is causing Ontarians to let their products expire resulting in additional fees/penalties.”

How might we improve so that our Digital Reminders are successful based on:

→ Achieving 65% uptake for digital reminders

→ Increase rate of successful sign-ups from landing page

→ Increase rate of successfully renewal online from digital reminders (email and sms)

→ Decrease the number of users who fail to update their licence plate stickers/ driver licence

→ Reduce tickets for an expired licence plate stickers / driver licence

Addressing organizational goals 

In addition to our problem statement and success metrics, I wanted to analyze how an efficient digital reminder system can help the Ontario government.
1. Reducing the paper burden

🎯 The Ontario government will save money from the reduction of paper notices and eliminating administrative processes related to sending mailed reminders. 

2. Creating a reusable reminder system 

🎯 Using the digital reminders project as our MVP, we can test what works and doesn’t work for the overall notification system and create a reusable framework that the organization can use for other notification purposes.

Design process route

Our rapid prototyping lab works in adapted google sprints. Overall the project looked like this: 

ODS Lab in collaboration with full time product team

Product manager 

Project manager

5 weekly sprints for product validation (Discovery + Alpha) 

Yearly design involvement informing beta product launch
My role

UX designer and researcher.

Presenting and demonstrating validated recommendations and creating high-fidelity prototypes   
Redesigning the redesign 

We updated the previous mock-ups to follow our design system and created an interactive prototype to test with users. As a great bonus, I was able to collaborate closely with my design system colleagues and report back user feedback on new design patterns.   

Click to view first reminders flow in full screen

User story

To contextualize our prototype we created a user persona based on the foundational research. This was shared with the users we tested with to help direct their tasks of signing up. 

User interviews
During our user interviews, we wanted to understand our users' attitudes with signing up for digital reminders, what products they would want reminders for and which contact options they choose. Throughout our first three design sprints, we conducted 15 remote usability tests, which I lead. For the sessions that I observed, I documented insights and user feedback for further analysis. 

A screenshot of our miro board where we documented user insights

Acknowledging limitations
Since most of our 1 on 1 interviews were held online through zoom, we inadvertently recruited a pool of users who were technically savvy enough to participate. This was a problem because our users are defined as Ontarians that receive renewal reminders, which spans demographics such as age, ability and SES demographics. It was important to me that we made a conscious effort to talk to those that were currently excluded from our current recruitment. This ended up with our team planning 15 guerilla user testing sessions at two local libraries, providing an opportunity for individuals that may have low digital literacy to participate. 

Guerilla user testing sessions at our local library.
Updates needed 

Throughout our feedback sessions, I flagged insights from our users that would inform our design iterations in order of frequency and sentimental emphasis. The two main takeaways were:  
1. Sign-up mental model was not aligned

“I forgot that I’m just signing up for a digital reminder, not renewing it”

Users frequently described how they forgot that they were signing up for renewal digital reminders and even got confused in thinking they were actually renewing their products. Users going into the sign-up form thought it would be similar to signing up for a newsletter email subscription, a light touch experience. The fact that our reminder sign up was a multi-page process was incompatible to our users' mental model of what the service should be. 

📍Main takeaway: Align with users mental model and make the sign up in one form to keep their focus

2. Making it ‘easy’ was making it hard 

"I’m worried about identity theft…maybe I’m just being paranoid”

In designing the reminder sign up, we wanted to save our users time with data entry and auto-populate their licence plate information once they provided us with their driver's licence. Although it was obvious to us that we could fetch this data from our backend and present it, our users were confused and surprised that their licence plate numbers appeared without their input. This was causing an emotional reaction opposite to what we intended.

📍Main takeaway: Give users back the control to enter their own data

Delivering results  

Throughout the design sprints, we kept our stakeholders informed about our user findings through weekly show and tells. In these presentations, I found myself advocating the key point I kept hearing from users: to keep this sign up form simple.

A process flow of the overall digital reminder system

I was proud that our team delivered an accessible way for Ontarians to sign up for reminders on their soon expiring products. We started mobile first to make sure we were mindful of our user’s digital real estate and to force ourselves to keep the sign up as short as possible. 

visit demo prototype →

The desktop version of our digital reminder prototype

Our stakeholders suggested adding an editing feature for notifications in case users wanted to update their contact information. We tested this hypothesis in our usability tests and learned that it didn't address real user needs. I also recognized the security vulnerability this feature would introduce. In reporting this feedback I raised how we should collect user requests for additional features. This led to me researching user feedback mechanisms, reading recommendations from the design system team and proposing a similar design in the sign-up service as a way to validate the need for additional features. 
P.S Next steps     

Using our product team’s recommendations for MVP, I worked with our production team to design how our reminder service can be expanded to add other products such as health cards. With this came additional research and design considerations on proper error states, eligibility considerations and content scripting to fully build the end-to-end experience for our users. 

Moving forward from this project, I'm always going to remember the importance of the alignment between product and user goals. While this is a reminder service for soon-to-be expiring products, it's also a framework for how notifications will be communicated to Ontarians. It's important to me to always remember the breadth of users we are designing for and to keep advocating for accessibility and ease in all of our designs. 

A paper reminder I received for my health card which will now come as email