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Improving Access to Licensing Services by Prioritizing Accessibility

Case Study

Washington Department of Licensing

DOL website in a laptop browser
Hand holding mobile phone with DOL website showing
Matrix of numbers

The Problem

The Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) website, crucial for services like driver's licenses and ID cards, grappled with a dated website platform and accessibility challenges, resulting in dissatisfaction among its 40 million annual customers. The site’s navigation lacked clarity, with a cluttered visual hierarchy, and the homepage didn’t prioritize essential customer needs. 

Accessibility issues compounded the problem for over 7 million Washingtonians with disabilities, falling short of agency, state, and federal standards. Satisfaction rates plunged by 50% between 2013 and 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation, pushing more customers online than ever and resulting in complaints from customers struggling to find critical information.

DOL partnered with Anthro-Tech to revolutionize the website, prioritizing customer experience and accessibility.

Person using a laptop to view the new DOL website

The new Washington Department of Licensing website offers direct access to customers’ top tasks, crucial for the wide array of services provided.

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The Solution 

The Human-Centered Design (HCD) process shaped the new DOL website. Over 800 customers and more than 25 DOL experts, tested prototypes of the new site and gave feedback in interviews and usability studies. Thirty percent of those usability sessions were conducted by people with disabilities and people who use assistive technologies. 

Our thorough HCD process for this project included:

  • Research to support the design of data-driven user personas, helping to bring empathy into the work and bring a focus to the user experience
  • Conducting a card sort and tree test to inform a new user-centered information architecture 
  • Content improvement using plain language and reduction of pages from 1,400+ to 1,100
  • A consistent design using the U.S. Web Design System that supports a responsive, mobile-friendly website
  • Iterative design and usability studies with a focus on digital accessibility throughout to improve the experience for all users
  • Migration to a user-friendly content management system so DOL teams can update and maintain the website more efficiently
  • Organizational change management strategies to ensure stakeholders are brought along for the journey and in support of the HCD process
  • Training and mentoring in HCD to ensure website improvement does not stop with the closure of the project
Two website screens side by side

The DOL website before and after the redesign project. 

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The Impact

The project concluded within scope, under budget, and the website went live two weeks ahead of schedule.

The new website serves a diverse range of DOL customers with its streamlined structure and simplified language, making navigation intuitive for everyone. The home page offers direct access to customers’ top tasks, crucial for the wide array of services DOL provides to Washington residents.  The system's ease-of-use score surged by 21 points, reflecting the positive impact of the transformation. Just one-month post-launch, we observed a 5% increase in mobile users and a 9% improvement in content readability, enhancing accessibility.

Awards & Accolades

Davey Award logo and text: Anthro-Tech Silver Awards

The Davey Awards are the largest and most prestigious awards competition exclusively for the “Davids” (i.e. David and Goliath) of creativity. It is an international award focused on honoring outstanding creative work from the best small agencies from across the world. Anthro-Tech were awarded three Silver Awards in 2023 related to this project. 

General – Government Website
Features – Best User Interface
Features – Best User Experience

You can read more about these awards and others in 2023 in this post on Ideas + Insights.