Texas Dept of Licensing and Regulation

The Client

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is a state agency of Texas that is responsible for licensing and regulating a broad range of occupations, businesses, facilities, and equipment in Texas.

TDLR handles licensing within 40 different industries, covering a diverse range of skill sets ranging from massage to electrician, cosmetology to podiatry, and more.

The Challenge

stack of papers with stamps saying rules and regulations

Each licensing field has different laws and regulations in regard to licensing periods, training, certifications, renewals, and a variety of other needs. As part of its function, TDLR offers login-protected portals where licensees can manage their licenses and fulfill a number of other functions necessary to practice business within the user's field. Up to this point, TDLR had a range of industry-specific (and very archaic/outdated) applications.

TDLR needed to create a master application that would adapt to the needs of all user types in ALL licensing fields in an elegant, consistent way. This application would have to meet the needs of all of the following:

  • A large variety of licensee user types
  • A large variety of licensing fields, each with differing regulations
  • Internal TDLR employees who perform management, oversight, approval, and inspections of licensees

Given that this is a government application, a variety of requirements guided the redesign. These included a thorough review of existing industry-specific licensing applications, as well as accessibility & compliance with:

  • Section 508 guidelines
  • TDLR branding guidelines
  • Texas government mandates affecting site content
  • Legal regulations/restrictions applicable to a state government agencies, Personal Identifying Information, etc.

My Roles

  • User Research
  • Business Analysis — generation of requirements & UX documentation
  • Copywriting
  • UX Design
  • Presentations — all presentations were conducted to large groups of over 30 users

Research & Planning

research diagrams on paper with hand holding a pen over it

A substantial discovery process was needed to determine all needs of this ambitious project.

User Personas

Through the discovery process, we determined that there are 5 user personas who encapsulate all users in the many licensing fields handled by TDLR:

  • Individual Practitioner — a person who performs a skilled trade
  • Business — an entity that employs Individual Practitioners. This ranges from a small "mom and pop" business to large corporations with a variety of sub-businesses that each have to be licensed separately but managed as part of the same parent business entity.
  • School — a licensed entity that teaches a trade/skill to Individual Practitioners
  • Continuing Education Provider — some fields require ongoing continuing education requirements for licensing, and these businesses provide the necessary training & certifications
  • TDLR Internal Employee — super-users who must be able to perform the functions of all other user types, as well as a number of more complex administrative functions such as approval of licensing, inspections, sanctions and disciplinary actions, etc.


Industry-Specific Needs

A sizeable amount of research was dedicated to assessing and delineating the unique needs of each licensing field. For example, the needs for licensing in the Massage field are drastically different from the needs of Electricians. This was all documented to help create a master application that could seamlessly adapt to the needs of all licensing fields.

Designing the Solution

Information Architecture

Number of Portals

In order to more efficiently serve each of the 5 user types and not overwhelm users with options, we opted to design a system that utilized a dedicated user portal for EACH of the 5 user types, with all 5 portals connected to a single back end architecture. This allowed for all necessary portals to communicate with each other, while also creating a cleaner user experience.

User Flows

In addition to guiding information architecture and wireframe design, user flows were developed in conjunction with considerations unique to each licensing field, in order to determine what functionality was common to all licensing fields for a given portal vs. what functionality was unique to a particular licensing field.

Based on the above items, information architecture was determined for each portal. The design enabled users to quickly find the most-used functions, while still having easy access to the wide variety of tasks they may need to perform for continued licensing.


Responsive Design

hand holding mobile phone in front of orange background

External/Licensee Portals

All screens of the 4 licensee/external portals were designed with a "mobile first" approach. (i.e. mobile is the primary view, and desktop mockups exist as well)

TDLR Internal Portal

Since these screens are only used by TDLR employees on agency computers, and tend to be more information-dense than the licensee portals, screens for this portal were designed only for desktop.


Wireframes/Visual Design

Visual guidelines were determined by an existing TDLR style guide, so wireframes were able to be created as full-fidelity mockups.

An iterative process was used to work through functionality of each portal by conducting a review/revision process with TDLR that ultimately led to the best solutions for each portal.

Mockups were created for mobile and desktop breakpoints.

Unique Considerations

Each user type — and thus each portal — had unique considerations. The simplest of the 5 portals was the Individual Practitioner portal, which allowed the following functions:

  • License Management (apply for/renew licenses and student permits)
  • Existing license management within the digital application
  • Payments
  • Management of continuing education hours
  • Unique considerations of some fields (such as Electrician, who gain training through apprenticeships rather than schooling)
  • Access to all required and supplemental forms/documentation/etc.

In contrast, the most complex of the portals was the TDLR employee/administrative portal. In addition to needing to be able to perform all functions of all other user types, TDLR employees have a large variety of management tasks that need to be conducted through the application including:

  • Approval of applications/renewals
  • Inspections (for legal compliance of licensees)
  • Enforcement/disciplinary actions
  • Processing school transcript evaluations
  • Criminal history evaluation
  • Management of closures (of licensed businesses/schools/etc.)


The final design was received so well that other Texas state government institutions started inquiring about the possibility of adapting it for their use. It was regarded as a success and a major step forward for TDLR.

This project was conducted during the peak of COVID shutdown, so ability to conduct user groups/user testing was greatly impacted. As such, we had to rely on the expertise of the subject matter experts at TDLR. The employees had quite a number of years of experience both at TDLR and as licensed professionals in a variety of the fields being served, and they are truly are experts on their users. But ideally, I would have preferred to be able to have more engagement with end users throughout the process for user research and user testing.

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