The challenge

A new form of identity

Digital iD aims to change how the Australian public thinks, uses and manages their identity and privacy of those details – online or in person. They wanted to create a paradigm shift in how people proved their identity, remove all the hurdles around that process and make them feel protected and safe in those sensitive private moments.

My role

I was the lead mobile designer for the app. I worked closely with product owners, researchers, solution architects, engineers and senior managment.

In addition to that, I was also in charge of mentoring and helping two other designers on the intricacies and patterns around mobile design.

I was heavily involved in research activities from creating prototypes to support testing right down to helping researchers take notes and synthesize results.

UX Solution #1

Simplifying verification

We wanted to move beyond the digitisation of paper forms. This was an app to help customers easily verify their identity. I wanted it to be as easy as possible with the help of the tech at our disposal.

Verification framework

I pursued an accessible form framework as a baseline to cater to a diverse audience, followed by scanning and chip reading to create a seamless verification experience.

Manual entry - baseline
Camera assisted
Chip assisted
Showcasing verification framework flows

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

Guiding customers

Part of the framework also involved ways for us to communicate with customers. We needed different ways to communicate with them and it had to work for all parts of the verification framework.

As we grew, ended up turning a lot of these into messaging patterns that we used to communicate with our customers.

Callouts, alerts & inline hints
Feature discovery
Interactive walkthrough

Microanimations educate and delight

Lastly, we brought moments of delight at various touchpoints to make the overall experience a delightful one. Even though verification can at times be a dry subject, we managed to delight our customers at key moments and turn the entire experience into an amazing one.

Verification success
Verification failure

UX Solution #2

Reusing verifications

With a verification framework in place, we moved to next piece of the puzzle – securely sending verified details whenever required. Unlike many other services, we didn't share the details requested. Instead we would notify the requesting party that the details were verified – preserving the privacy of the user in the process.

All customers had to do was enter their mobile number, which then kicked off the flow on the Digital iD app.

Notification prompt
Business details
Details requested
Tying it all together

Communicating complex concepts

Shortly after releasing this, we noticed a major pain point was that some customers were having issues with this concept. The problem was two fold — relying on push notifications and our instructions.

The problem was that we were asking customers to check their phone when they entered their mobile number. However when push notifications weren't turned on, checking your phone did nothing. Customers wouldn't see the notification we were hoping they saw.

I suggested we approach the problem from 3 angles. Fix the language, remove our reliance on push notifications and supplement our instructions with an illustration or animation showing people what was required.

Open app prompt prototype

UX Solution #3

Helping businesses verify customers

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. 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 had to communicate these different requirements clearly to their customers and ensure our solution scaled well. We didn’t want to create a proprietary solution for every business that partnered with us.

Early sketches
Early sketches
Early sketches

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.

With our design system, we were able to iterate quickly and create prototypes that we could test with our customers.

Test option 1
Test option 2 - winner

In the end, the winner was a simple vertical step by step indicator that guided them throughout the entire process. Customers really liked knowing what documents were required, the number of steps involved and an indicator of where they were in the process.

Prompt to customers
Choose documents available
Steps to complete verification

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

UX Solution #4

Proving identity in person

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 version

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.

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.

Mapping the experience, pain points and brainstorming ideas

I mapped the experience alongside a researcher and produced a customer journey to showcase all the pain points that customers were facing.

Mapping the experience

With the information we obtained, I started to brainstorm techniques of how we could articulate the value of a Digital iD profile.

Testing multiple options

Learning from our past mistakes, we tested multiple options over the course of several days.

I created near full interactive prototypes so that our customers could feel like they were interating with a real app to ensure we got the best results with the least amount of researcher intervention as they used our product.

Testing multiple options

In the end a clear option explaining how and where it could be used was the clearest option for our customers. We also found that adding little bits of achievements throughout the process helped and reinforced a positive experience which fuelled completion.

Selling the usefulness
Where to use
Required steps

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.

Scanning a Digital iD

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.

Visual cue

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.

Version 1
Version 2
Version 3

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.

Welcome screen
Feature education
Photo capture
Custom web view
Activity stream

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.

Design system 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.

Design system primitives
Design system generic components