Looking for bad user experience? I go DirectGov.

Posted on 17 Jun 2010

I've just moved home and so needed to update the address on my driving license. "Do it online - do it quicker," says the DVLA website. Well all right, I reply. How naive of me.

After clicking through 3 pages of introductory text (which nobody will ever read) the first step is to log in to the Government Gateway thing with its easily memorable 12-digit user ID. Fortunately I do my self assessment online so I already have an account because just getting a gateway login is a challenge in itself. Nevertheless I was quite impressed that they have a unified login for all government services. Or do they?

Once signed in, and after clicking through a few more screens of text, you have to enrol in the Motoring section which involves filling out all your personal details again in an extra long form which asks for increasingly irrelevant details such as UK passport number. After over ten minutes of form-filling, the last step it told me that my details didn't match up and made me go back and check everything.

It turned out I had omitted my middle name from the form. OK, so I've just provided all this personal information including addresses, 16 character driver number, 10 character photocard reference number and 12 digit counterpart license reference number and they're failing the form because the middle names don't match? Really? After stepping through the entire form a third time because the confirmation page incorrectly formatted my postcode with an extra "0" (incorrect use of sprintf()?), I finally completed the form.

The final step, they informed, was to print out a form, date and sign it, and post it, my photocard driving license and my counterpart license to the DVLA within 21 days.

Now pause for a moment of reflection and compare this to the pre-online experience of updating your driving license address.

Step 1: write your new address in the space provided at the bottom of your counterpart driving license.

Step 2: post this and the photocard license to the DVLA.

Step 3: oh, wait, that's it. There is no step 3.