Renew your passport

Design lead

Use your smartphone to take your passport photo.

The passport exemplar is an ambitious project - for the first time people will be allowed to take their own photo (rather paying for one), they’ll be able to submit it digitally (rather than posting a print), and they’ll have no forms to sign.

My role #

I’ve been design lead on the project from discovery through to beta. Together with a few other GDS people, we’ve worked in the Home Office alongside HM Passport Office colleagues. We’ve collaborated with policy and operations to make this service simple and easy to use.

Photo of a woman using the new passport renewal service.
The start page for the new passport renewal service.

User research #

User needs are at the heart of this project. We’ve had over 30 days of usability testing in the lab, meeting over 150 users and finding out about their needs. I’ve worked closely with our user researchers, content designers, and developers to ensure the service works for people.

A photo from a user research session. A user is attempting to take a passport-style photograph.
How easy is it to take a photo?
A photo from a user research session. The service is being used on a smartphone.
Usability testing on mobiles

Agile development #

We’ve developed the project iteratively, always based on user research.

Photo of the project’s design wall. Screenshots of the service are printed out and stuck on the wall, with annotated post-its on top.
Our design wall. Yellow for quotes, green for questions, blue for findings, pink for actions.

Prototyping #

We’ve prototyped every step of the way. Our prototype is a heavily modified version of the GOV.UK prototype kit with nearly 1000 commits (545 of them by me!). We’ve used Heroku to test often and fail fast.

Photo of a laptop displaying the start page of the passport renewal service.Photo of a laptop displaying computer code for a prototype that makes the start page of the passport renewal service.
Project prototyped in code and hosted on Heroku.

Private beta #

The project went in to private beta (real users getting real passports) in July 2015. We’ll continue to iterate it as we get ready for higher volumes.