How a redesign of the Newborn Registration Service saved Service Ontario $15 million in adjudication errors

While the existing Newborn Bundle aimed to provide easy, convenient online access, having launched over 10 years ago, the service was falling behind the changing expectations and needs of its users.

Using the 5-in-1 Newborn Registration Service, one can register a child’s birth, order their child’s first birth certificate, apply for Canada Child Benefits and Social Insurance Number (SIN), and apply for an Education Savings Referral.

Imagine being exhausted, having a newborn baby crying in your ear and …

… trying to type your name into this form

..being expected to read 30 minutes of pages with descriptions like this

.. answering shocking and traumatic questions like this

.. trying to calculate pregnancy in weeks and figure out this potential algebraic equation

.. being forced to check off legal boxes on behalf of two people, even if you’re a single parent

… trying to figure out which of these options apply

Complicated back-end requirements made the service long, confusing, and exclusionary of different family or parental structures. Although it provided great value, the value was lost in the painfully long experience. It certainly did not take into account the very important context that the service was designed for new parents.

Before, the service:

  • Assumed that the registration of a birth must be to a heterosexual cis-gendered couple
  • Was text-heavy and full of legalese
  • Erased all information inputted after 30 minutes of inactivity — not considering the context of a new parent’s situation when registering
  • Left users uncertain what they are agreeing to and registering for
  • Was non-responsive for mobile device use
  • Was exhausting, while not explaining in plain terms the value it offered

Approach

In order to be fulfilled, the data entered by new parents much match data in Ontario’s systems. We aimed to reduce online adjudications in the Newborn service by 25% by end of Year 1 while maintaining program integrity. This was done by focusing on the users’ contextual experience with the form. I cannot provide detailed examples due to the serious legal nature of birth registration and the potential for identity theft, so I have given an overview of the process instead.

We conducted research in the form of field observation, contextual user interviews with new and expectant parents, stakeholder interviews with workers involved in all steps of the process, usability testing, literature review, and service benchmarking.

We defined the problem through stakeholder maps, research-based personas, and user journey maps.

After learning about the complex business requirements, back-end processes, and the lack of contextual consideration of the design, we were able to prioritize three areas of improvement; words, flow, and interactions.

We developed concepts through service blueprinting, business modelling, and prototyping.

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In the end, we delivered through a series of design sprints and continued iteration through user testing.

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Value

In the end, it may not look like a complete redesign… but the design is in the details.

The new service functions smoothly and is able to be filled out more quickly thanks to progressive disclosure. The content and information architecture is designed with users’ context in mind, letting them know what they will need before opening the application and seamlessly guiding them through the information they must provide without displaying any of the many use cases that don’t pertain to them.

The following improvements were made:

  • Clarity of language to help comprehension
  • Streamlined flow-state, able to be done in under 25 minutes
  • Requirements clarification in-line
  • Detailed requirements for parental title and surrogacy
  • Gender-neutral language for parents and birth parent
  • Enabling up to 4 parents
  • Simple interactive patterns
  • Mobile-first and responsive design
  • Enhanced criteria for stakeholder-partner needs
  • Trust, privacy, security, timeliness (speed) elements
  • Enablement for potential expansion of services

In changing the words, flow, and interactive patterns, we were able to reduce input errors. This was projected to reduce the cost of adjudications by $15 million.

Role:
Business Analyst turned Project Lead

Team Size:
2 core members + 2 consultants

Time Frame:
10 months

Client:
Service Ontario

Methods:
Desk research
Service benchmarking
Stakeholder interviews
Qualitative User interviews
Stakeholder mapping
Personas
User journey maps
Service blueprinting
Prototyping wireframes & touchpoints
Design sprints

Graphic Design and Consultation with Studio Wé

designs experiences, solves complex problems, fights for social justice, nerds out on AI ethics & futures

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