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.
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 Up to this point, TDLR had a range of industry-specific (and very archaic/outdated) applications.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:
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:
A substantial discovery process was needed to determine all needs of this ambitious project.
Through the discovery process, we determined that there are 5 user personas who encapsulate all users in the many licensing fields handled by TDLR:
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.