City of Melbourne Single Digital Customer Interface

  • 2017

  • Design Strategy

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

City of Melbourne

Designed In:


City of Melbourne governs ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ for central Melbourne and surrounding suburbs. Our team was tasked with delivering a strategy to deliver human centred digital services. We worked with internal teams to frame the problem space, develop concepts and conduct research to understand people’s attitudes, behaviours and needs.

  • MORE
  • The City of Melbourne exists to serve the needs of the members of its constituency. They are voted in by the residents and ratepayers that live within their boundary area every four years. The City of Melbourne follows five strategic themes in the work they do: Innovation and Insight, Customer First - Digital First, Future Focus, Engaged People, Operational Excellence. This project tackled a number of these themes. The City of Melbourne had recently formulated a new strategic direction which addressed how to better serve the needs of its residents and ratepayers. An overhaul of their service delivery approach was a high priority, with a final aim of having 90% of transactions completed online.

  • The project's process aimed to build capability within City of Melbourne, with staff learning human centred design processes while embedded within our project team. The project would also become an example of best practice strategic design processes to be applied to the hundreds of other council services. A two-day workshop was undertaken with wide stakeholder participation - from IT operations through to marketing. This helped the team to map existing knowledge and deeply understand project objectives from many perspectives. Customer insight was mediated through the testing of product concepts, in the form of paper prototypes. This allowed the team to more deeply understand what mattered most to citizens.

  • Exemplar services were shortlisted to be redesigned that were either complex, high volume, had atypical requirements or required integration with complex back-end systems. Process maps of the service flows were mapped out with the help of relevant stakeholders. Citizens were recruited to give broad demographic and socioeconomic representation. Service concepts were then tested with them, helping the project team to uncover how services should be presented and how they might be traversed in the most logical and frictionless way. The user research also enabled the team to understand the level of engagement people were prepared to offer and their expectations of council services.

  • The status quo of online systems is that people should create an account, or authenticate through social media. By implementing a strategic design approach, we unearthed a simple but powerful insight - we could ditch this process altogether. Our research showed us that creating another account or logging back into a system was a genuine blocker for people to get through a council transaction. Our team generated service concepts that didn't require the creation or management of a specific online account at all - we would use unique identifiers like a mobile phone numbers and another small, unique data point to verify users. We found a way to radically reduce the friction of accessing services for citizens.

    This project has proven the case for design across the business. Deep collaboration was on display - senior stakeholders were embedded in a multidisciplinary project team, helping to build and scale design capability. Projects are now tackled - using this project's processes as a blueprint - by building empathy with customers throughout projects and mediating knowledge and concepts through prototypes. The wider stakeholder group (including the acting CEO) was highly engaged throughout; attending regular stand-ups and fortnightly showcases. Open studios enabled the wider organisation to become familiar with the language, approach, processes and methodologies that made this project the new benchmark.

    We delivered two documents for this project; a design strategy and a design capability toolkit. The design strategy outlines how best to best deliver the services within the scope of this project, and the toolkit outlines a design-led approach to scale efficient, low cost services across the organisation. It's working. The toolkit has recently been used to create a new service which allows residents and ratepayers to log a request to remove graffiti. This project followed the design-led approach in the strategy and capability toolkit and has resulted in a simple, easy to use service that meets the needs of citizens.