Best in Category - Design Strategy 2017

City of Melbourne Single Digital Customer Interface

City of Melbourne / Today

There are hundreds of services that require residents to transact with their local government.

The existing digital service experience delivered by the City of Melbourne was poor by modern standards, and the team needed guidance and leadership to deliver a modern, consistent digital service that appropriately meets customer needs.

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.

Clarity of Purpose

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 dove deep into all of these themes.

The City of Melbourne had recently formulated a new strategic direction which looked at how they might better serve the needs of 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.

User research

Exemplar services were shortlisted to be redesigned that were either complex, high volume, had atypical requirements or required integration with back-end systems. Process maps of service flows were generated with citizens.

Diverse City of Melbourne residents and businesses were recruited, giving broad demographic and socioeconomic representation. Concepts were developed with them, shoulder-to-shoulder – helping the design team work through how services should present, and how they might be navigated in the most logical way. Co-design sessions enabled the team to understand the level of engagement people had, and their hopes, dreams and expectations of council services.


The status quo of online systems is that people should create an account, or authenticate through social media. Through a strategic design approach, we unearthed a simple, powerful insight – we could ditch this process altogether.

Our research showed creating another account or logging into a system was a genuine blocker for people just trying to transact. We generated concepts that didn’t require the creation or management of a specific account at all – we would use unique identifiers like mobile phone numbers and another unique data point to verify users.

This radically reduces the friction of services for citizens.

Design Leadership

This project has proven the case for design-led service design across council. 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 and mediating knowledge and concepts through prototypes.

The wider stakeholder group (including the acting CEO) were 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.

Business Model

We created a design strategy and 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 three new digital services with more to come. They all followed the design-led approach in the strategy and capability toolkit and have had a positive impact: online service requests have increased by 59% while the time and effort to submit the request has been significantly reduced.