turning parking ticket payments positive
Parking Bylaw Notice is a service provided by the City of Surrey for citizens to pay and/or dispute their parking tickets online using the Surrey Online Services platform. When a citizen violates parking rules or regulations, they are issued a ticket and need to pay the City due to their action.
I was the lead designer to redesign the original service to help streamline online ticket payments and dispute processes for citizens, as well as the business workflows for staff administrators.
How might we make a parking ticket payment and/or dispute process less of a task and more of mutual understanding?
A complete overhaul was done so that it can be interacted across devices, provided citizens with resources and evidence to support their cases, as well as simplified the dispute and adjudication procedure to benefit both citizens’ and staffs’ workload on gathering necessary information.
A helpful landing screen.
The landing screen of the service is simplified to communicate necessary items to complete the service. Citizens are required to input the 2 pieces of verification of bylaw notice number and licence plate to “login” to view their tickets as sensitive information are present. In the case that someone lost their ticket, further verification information can be inputted for the system to find. Furthermore, resources are provided at the bottom for citizens to make references and the Terms of Services are present, but hidden as it is important information that no one reads.
Citizens can now view all their tickets in one place upon a “login” and check statuses of tickets. Especially for business owners, they can also pay more than one ticket at once. To enhance the ticket viewing experience, a photo evidence taken by the officer is now available to help with mutual understanding. If there are any disagreements, citizens can make a dispute. A countdown is also shown to remind and encourage citizens to pay their fines.
The ability to dispute is now digitized and can be done online. Citizens can then quickly fill out the form, upload any evidence to defend their reasonings, and choose time slots for adjudication hearings. After the submission, a case package gets generated with the officer and citizen inputs. This helps decrease the staff workload without the need to gather details and supporting documents over traditional mediums (phone, fax, in-person) so that they can sort through more cases.
The Parking Bylaw Notice service is one of the most important services at the City as parking tickets are issued on a daily basis. However, oftentimes angry citizens do not pay up because they believe they are correct. On the other hand, the City is under staff to take calls and manual intakes. The UI was also outdated and not mobile friendly. And so, the opportunity was to do a complete user experience refresh from the moment a ticket is issued to the payment or dispute process for both citizens and administrators.
Heuristic evaluation was first done for the internal team to gain context on the service and its usability flaws. Doing so helps the team come up with assumptions on what items need to be fixed. Violations identified consist of using jargon that does not speak to users’ language, inconsistency, as well as lack of visual hierarchy and cues.
We then validated our assumptions of the items we wanted to fix by conducting a user study with 5 participants using the old (at time existing) service, followed by a low-fidelity mockup of ideas for improvement. Since some of the participants were domain experts as well, we also conducted an expert interview with them in the post-study session.
After conducting a series of research exercises, a few key findings were identified and usability problems were ranked from critical to minor.
1. Information hierarchy was unclear and does not allude to users’ mental models.
2. Lack of consistency with disjointed experiences between pages.
3. Too much text is present in the service, which in turn confuses users of their tasks at hand.
4. No web address on the ticket itself and people are unsure of which page to access upon a Google search.
5. The current dispute process is complicated and cannot be done online.
6. Staff have too many calls and manual intakes.
After finding out citizen and staff pain points, a customer journey framework was mapped out to understand touchpoints and looked for areas that can have an opportunity to make an impact.
I then sketched out the information architecture of how the back-end systems can be integrated and communicated at each point of the online service, as well as the new user flow of how citizens are intended to use the redesigned service.
In knowing the flaws in the system, some ideas were explored. First, the overwhelming amount of terms and conditions text was removed and placed under a general terms page of the platform. Next, large buttons with icons were designed to provide 2 clear and distinct call-to-actions. Lastly, basic information is shown to speed up the payment process.
Unfortunately, the first thing I found was that each service has their own specific terms and conditions, which was important to have available in each service. Since we were adding a dispute feature with sensitive information, there needed to be a way to secure and verify the owner, where it soon became necessary to input both bylaw notice number and licence plate to access the information, whereas either/or can be inputted in the original to find a ticket information. Additionally to use more visual communication, photos of evidence are also integrated.
1. Increased the amount of ticket payments by 2.45% after launching the redesign within the year. This number was rather low as there were a lot of old dated tickets that have been ignored in the system that may have skewed the data, or people simply wish to ignore their tickets issued and not pay. However, a recent law has passed that one cannot renew their vehicle licence until they pay the City’s parking ticket.
2.Decreased the amount of disputes by 2.45% after launching the redesign within the year. The trend became significantly lower overtime as people might have seen the evidence and decided to pay, or they simply wish to ignore the ticket that was issued.