I’m Paul Bailey and I’m the lead user researcher working with DVSA to create an app that will allow examiners to digitally record driving tests and make life simpler for customers.
Understanding user needs
User research enables us to learn about users and create services that meet their needs.
Without it, it’s difficult to know what problems need to be solved, what to build or if the service you create will work well for the people who use it.
To understand the needs of people who use the driving test, the project team has travelled the length of the country visiting over 40 test centres, attending conferences and talking to everyone involved in the driving test experience.
We learned a lot about the day to day issues examiners and candidates had with the current service and what they'd like to see improved. This presented us with a number of unique challenges!
Minimising distraction during the test
From the start of the project making sure tests were still carried out safely and smoothly was our primary aim. It was vital users weren’t distracted by any changes.
To see how the app, and digitally marking the test would work, we carried out over 50 in-car simulated tests with examiners. This allowed us to understand how they log results whilst maintaining focus on the road. To do this we measured the amount of time an examiner took their eyes off the road to mark a driving fault using the app compared to what they currently do on paper.
These insights helped us to continuously improve our design and meant we could minimise the amount of time needed to mark a driving fault in a moving vehicle.
Marking during the test
To allow the examiners to recall which part of the test they have conducted, they'll record when they have carried out certain requirements on the app.
We know anecdotally, something that can potentially distract candidates is seeing the examiner mark something on the DL25 during the test. It can cause them to worry they’ve done something wrong.
So, I wanted to reassure you and your candidates, that seeing the examiner using the tablet during the test does not automatically mean they’re marking a fault. They might be confirming that they’ve carried out the manoeuvre.
Improving the test for candidates
Although the app will be used daily by our examiners, they aren’t the only users we needed to consider during the design process.
We needed to understand if changing from paper to a digital process would impact the candidate’s journey too.
To do this we held candidate interviews and workshops. The aim of these was to:
- understand the current candidate experience
- review when the candidates would interact with the new app
- review the proposed candidate feedback emails for both a pass and failed test
Making candidate declarations more accessible
One of the first times candidates will use the app is signing the insurance and residency declarations.
The current signature box and text on the paper DL25 is very small. It can be hard for the candidate to read and understand this.
The new app makes this much more accessible for the candidate as the text and signature box are much bigger. It also allows the candidate to re-sign the declarations if they’re unhappy with their signature.
Simplifying the test results
We've been asked a lot of questions about the new test summary candidates receive. During the candidate workshops we talked to them about the test summary, what they thought about the existing format and any changes they would like to see.
Although it’s a legal requirement for candidates to receive a paper pass certificate, the test debrief will still be given verbally and a copy of the summary will be sent digitally or on paper.
Understanding what test faults mean
Our research showed that nearly all the candidates we interviewed hadn’t read the back of their paper copy of the DL25, which sets out what the faults marked on the test mean.
This is important information which can help candidates better prepare themselves for either re-taking their test or driving safely independently.
The new summary form will link to this fault report on GOV.UK, underneath the list of the candidate’s faults.
We’ve reviewed the wording of these faults, to make them simpler to understand.
A better layout
To make it easier for the candidates to see the faults made during their test, the report will show them in order of severity. So, dangerous and serious faults are listed above driving faults.
This will make it clearer for the candidate and their instructor to see what they need to improve on. The new list will also make sure candidates and their instructor don’t miss anything important.
Easier with digital
Something else the candidates we spoke to mentioned was the ease of having the report sent digitally. It meant they didn’t need to worry about losing the paper after their test.
They also didn’t need to think about giving their copy of the report to their instructor, and not being able to take it home with them. The digital report will allow candidates to forward a copy of their report, if they choose to, to their instructor or any accompanying drivers.
A more accessible report
The electronic summary report will also make it easier for candidates with special accessibility needs to view and understand it.
We know some candidates with accessibility needs will have certain settings on their digital devices, this could be enlarging the text or having a different coloured background.
Sending the report digitally means they’ll be able to view their report in the way that suits their needs best.
Meeting GDPR regulations
Something many of you have asked is whether the system can send both you and your candidate a test summary.
Because of GDPR regulations this isn’t something we’re able to do. Data collected during the test is owned by the candidate. It's up to them who they decide to share this with.
They can either give their permission for their summary to be sent to the instructor’s email at the start of the test, or send a copy from their own email. The email should be sent nearly instantly, so you’ll be able to review this with them after the examiner’s debrief.
The new layout of the summary should also help you structure the conversation after the test.
Designing a service that works for everyone
Throughout the project we've worked closely with the DVSA's 'Staff Enabled Group' to really understand additional needs and make sure everyone can use the updated service.
We've conducted usability testing with users who have additional needs and had an independent accessibility audit to make sure that people with disabilities or other legally protected characteristics can easily use the service.
For people who don’t have access to the internet or lack the skills or confidence to use it, we’ve made sure that assisted digital support is in place.
We've begun to start the roll out process across car driving tests. So, you might start to see some of your candidate’s tests carried out using the app.
We’ll be introducing the process gradually, using a small number of examiners and tests, but by the end of the year the aim is for the majority of car tests to be done digitally.
The new process is more efficient for examiners, will improve data accuracy and reduce the time needed to process test results for candidates. It's another giant step forward in the DVSA’s vision of becoming a digitally-enabled organization.
If you have any questions about research, design, or how the app works, please let me know in the comments.