Digital iD – Helping Australians secure and prove their identity


Digital iD aims to make the process of creating, verifying and proving identity online and in person, as easy as possible.

Identity verification is often a tricky process requiring multiple documents and businesses require different combinations to satisfy their verification requirements.

With the Digital iD app, customers can verify all their documents once, save it securely on their phone and reuse those verified documents to prove their identity when required – conveniently from their phone.

Areas of focus

Over the course of 2 years as the lead product designer, I worked closely with my peers and the wider team contributing on many aspects of the product such as:-

Simplifying verification

The major parts of identity verification are the digitisation of paper forms and moulding interactions that were traditionally taking place over the counter, where staff would be able to guide users to ensure their applications were successful. In addition to that, we also had to ensure that everything designed was accessible to a large audience.

Armed with that challenge, I suggested that we pursue an accessible form framework as a baseline to make verification accessible to a wide variety of audience.

Sketching options for the form framework

Pairing with another designer and a researcher, we decided to test out multiple options with consumers before landing on a framework that worked well for a multitude of form types, allowed us to provide helpful hints, feedback for when mistakes happen and worked with assistive technology such as VoiceOver and Display Zoom.

All components of the framework coming together in app
Verification flow (top right) – and a birds eye view of Digital iD
Key learning – showcasing

Use customer journeys — they're your blueprints and really help with figuring out holes in an experience! If you need a template to work with, here's mine!

Map out flows — Use a documentation library that contains all your arrows, to quickly enable you to title screens, create flows and add documentation notes as you design! Here's my flow library, if you need one!

Communicate a timeline of key releases — Work with your product owners to manage how customers will experience your product (which is directly tied to what is being released). This allows you to help product owners and the UX team manage expectations and provide key stakeholders with an idea of how a feature is going to evolve. Here's a quick and easy template to showcase timelines – download my timeline template here

Once we had our baseline, we also looked at using the device camera to make verification a breeze. This meant using technology such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to scan licences and Software Development Kits (SDK) to read passports and confirm faces - creating a fast, seamless and simple verification experience.

OCR scanning of ID documents

Helping businesses verify customers easily

Digital iD is a two sided market. On one side we had the Australian public and on the other side we had businesses that partnered with us to make verification seamless for them. We partnered with a variety of businesses - from large enterprises right down to small businesses. This made verification an interesting challenge for us, as these businesses had different standards of verification depending on the products that required them - each with different requirements of documents, photos and even at times face to face interactions to complete the verification.

We were presented with the challenge of communicating these different steps clearly to their customers who were using the Digital iD app to complete a verification. To make this an even more of a unique challenge, we also had to ensure that our solution scaled well. We didn’t want to have to create a proprietary solution for every business that partnered with us. The last curve ball was that different users (new or existing) had different document verified, which meant that not everyone had to complete the same amount of steps.

Sketching ideas to communicate different ID requirements to customers

Working closely with engineering, product owners, researchers and the other designers in the team, we started sketching and prototyping different options and running testing sessions with customers.

Using our design system, we were able to move quickly and create fully functioning prototypes that we could put in front of our customers to see how they felt about our solution.

Testing multiple options with customers

In the end, the simplest option was a clear winner. Customers really liked knowing what documents were required, the amount of steps to complete verification and a clear indicator of where they were in the process. Armed with that knowledge, we polished what we had and opted for a simple vertical step by step indicator that guided them throughout the entire process.

Key learning – researching

Customer interviews – Don't mess up your customer interview by asking feature based questions. These provide narrow depth and you'll get excited about data that doesn't matter at all. Ask broad questions, to learn about the 'why' and identify opportunities and gaps that your product may be missing. Use these insights to dig deeper and probe into features themselves.

Look beyond task completion – Its not OK that people eventually get to the outcome - test what people would really be doing not the feature you wish they'd use.

Lastly, watch this video by Leisa Reichelt. We honed our technique with her collected insights and scouring her blog

Tweaks on the design based on customer feedback and testing efforts

Eliminating the headache of re-verification

With documents verified and secured in the app, customers could easily reuse their verified details online to prove themselves to businesses using the Digital iD app.

Sketching ideas for reusing verified details on the app

After monitoring customer feedback, we noticed that users were having issues with reusing their verified details. With the help of a developer, we narrowed down the problem to our reliance on push notifications.

Looking at the customer journey, user flows and the time frame we had, I suggested that we implement a fallback method which would work regardless of whether notifications were enabled. Users simply had to open their app and follow the prompts.

Updated flow with fallback tweaks enabled

Educating customers and adding value to Digital iD

Our head of product came up with the idea of surfacing a Digital iD so that customers could show it to businesses as a companion ID on their phone whenever they needed to prove themselves. This meant that they could use their Digital iD both online and face to face!

Due to time constraints, we had to ship out a quick update to our users that gamified the onboarding process to entice users to complete their Digital iD.

Initial launch of Digital iD home screen

Part of monitoring our feedback post–launch revealed that customers were struggling with the app. They didn't know why they had to complete their profile, where they could use it in person, how to use it online or face to face. All of this was further validated by our registration and activation numbers.

Fortunately as a team, we anticipated this due to lack of testing prior to the launch. I suggested we tackle to problem from both sides: sell the value of Digital iD in more clear and tangible ways and educate our customers on how Digital iD can help them in their daily life.

Initial ideas for improving signups and engagement
Initial ideas for improving signups and engagement
Key learning – communication

Use a wall — Setup one section of the wall for your inspiration or competitor analysis. Split the remaining space for day to day work, vision and runway work. If you don't have wall space, use portable boards that you recycle and archive by taking photos of the boards.

Day to day work should be in form of workflows – communicate a journey and add notes to help people provide meaningful critique. Everything on the wall can be scribbled on or use sticky notes to leave questions and suggestions. This allows everyone to leave feedback, contribute to the product and have their voice heard.

Vision work can start as paper sketches to get conversations and ideas flowing. Then move on to something more higher fidelity like the paint like sketches above. Produce as many ideas as you want and place them on the wall. This provides a narrative for how the product may evolve and an alternative way to communicate and iterate on ideas quickly.

Using customer journeys and sketches to guide the final design and experience

We presented this back to customers and they loved it! In the first month of launching these updates we saw a 8% increase in customers completing their Digital iDs. That number kept on growing steadily over time – a truly rewarding experience and great team outcome!

In the background, we lobbied hard to make Digital iD a legislated form of ID by leveraging our relationship with the government. This gave both customers and businesses the confidence to accept Digital iD in moments when ID was required. These included entering pubs and clubs, purchasing alcohol or tickets and proving themselves to anyone. All customers would have to do is scan a users Digital iD and their identity would be confirmed whilst preserving their personal information.

We also added a quick visual cue that allowed anyone who was presented with a Digital iD to quickly ascertain if it was real or not. We decided to try different ideas such as using the accelerometer on devices and gestures to surface this visual watermark, something that we prototyped with Origami

In the end with the help of testing, we found that the simplest idea won out, and we ended up going with a simple tap as the trigger.

Key learning – prototyping

Prototyping is the best way to communicate an idea. It provides the team with a single idea to work from and is the most effective way of describing how an experience feels.

Use whatever gets the job done. Protoyping is a fast iterative process and you can be as dirty as you want and refine as you get a better idea from your prototype.

I tend to move between Flinto and Origami for most of my prototyping needs.

Style evolution

Digital iD was managed as a startup within Australia Post. This gave us a lot of room to aggressively pursue ambitious deadlines. This meant that some things had to take a back seat as we were hurtling towards our launch.

Soon after we launched, we kept on pursuing new features and progressing the product. Our style was evolving internally, but we were still bound by external agencies and enterprise red tape, which at times was a little frustrating. I decided to turn that frustration into opportunity. Rallying my teammates together, I suggested a refresh internally, as we knew the brand really well and we were on the frontlines with knowledge of how the product was evolving and how the business wanted to grow the product.

Visual evolution of the app and design direction

Each week in our design critique, we slowly changed the look, feel and tone of the product. This was achieved with close collaboration from designers, illustrators, copywriters, product owners and developers.

Full refresh implemented based on updated design direction and style evolution
Key learning – critiques

Establish design principles — Principles turn a group of individuals into a team with a shared point of view. A critique without principles is nothing more than personal opinions based on some new design fad.

Running a critique — Establish clear roles. You need a presenter (person asking for feedback), audience (people providing the feedback) and a facilitator (ensure everyone keeps within their roles, document notes for the presenter and ask the presenter how they'll move forward)

Presenting — Describe the problem statement. I normally use: 'I am showing [early/mid/complete] work around [problem] because [why it's problem] and am looking for feedback [specific area of feedback desired]'

Providing feedback — Focus on asking questions not making statements. This allows the presenter to focus on expressing their reasoning instead of being defensive.

Be positive — If you like something, let the presenter know and ask them how it might evolve, how you could use it in your problems, how it might scale. These all lead to more robust patterns and solutions

Know the difference between critique and criticism.

Creating and maintaining a design system

As lead designer, I realised early on that, in order for us to achieve our ambitious launch date, we needed the ability to iterate on designs and prototypes quickly. In addition to that, as the team expanded, it was also critical that we maintained consistency and everyone was not only talking the same language, but also sharing, learning and using the same components.

Digital iD library components

A design system is a massive responsibility and also a big change to how things work and how designers mockup ideas and concepts. Initially, it was met with skepticism - no one likes change! My team mates were concerned with losing creativity, something that was a very important concern to me and to the business as well.

We developed a simple workflow to help everyone contribute and maintain the design system. Shared responsibility and ownership was important to us.

I suggested that we split our design system into 3 groups that built on each other: a simple set of primitives to ensure consistency, a default set of components and finally a home team set of component that was unique to their subset of the product.

Each week at our design critique, new additions could be discussed and if everyone saw value in adding a pattern that was in a home team design system, it would be added to the default set of components.

When that was pitched, everyone liked it as now the entire team was invested in maintaining and helping create a centralised source of truth, but also had the ability to be creative and contribute towards progressing the style of the product.

Generic / Default components