At OpenGov, I worked on our Permitting, Licensing, and Code Enforcement solution for local and state governments. A key part of that solution is inspections. We found that our current responsive website solution for inspectors wasn't really fitting their needs. Namely, many inspectors were using phones and tablets and expected a native, seamless experience.
Inspectors needed to be able to schedule and complete inspections as well as plan their route for the day.
With a number of anecdotal comments in hand, we set out to validate our assumptions about the mobile app with actual customers. We conducted 6 interviews with building inspection and code enforcement officials and performed some preliminary competitive research.
Some findings from our research:
- Inspectors expect a native-feeling experience.
- Users often experienced short times of limited network service while inspecting.
- Quick access to camera and GPS functions is vital.
- Existing solutions were somewhat clunky and not quick to use.
- Many inspectors are issued iPads from their communities.
Wireframes & Initial Designs
We presented wireframes to the customers we had selected to interview. This let us gauge if the initial features we were planning on building would allow people to complete their core job.
One of my primary goals with the UI design of this app was to follow iOS and Android platform standard patterns whenever possible. This allowed the engineering team to build the initial version as fast as possible. I only strayed from patterns when establishing designs that were specific to our use case. Namely with "pass, fail, partial" controls and inspection checklist items.
Many communities issue iPads or other tablets to their inspectors. In fact, we anticipated most of the usage "in the field" would come from tablets. I also worked with the engineering team to develop an android version using native Android components and patterns where necessary.