DVSA Driving test rapid UX review

Rhys Merritt
4 min readMar 26, 2022

I’ve been trying to book myself onto a practical driving test for the last few weeks and have found myself in a constant loop of frustration with the DVSA Driving test booking website. I am not alone in my frustration, which can be seen on different online platforms, like Twitter;

My frustration is centred around the extremely poor usability of the DVSA booking platform, which coming from gov.uk has really surprised me as their online platforms are generally highly usable, and well thought out. If you look at the Gov.uk Design System (GDS) you’ll see just how thorough they have been when it comes to making an online experience as usable and simple as possible — Just take a look at this page on how to help users check whether a service is suitable.

So let’s look at the steps required to make a booking for a driving test.

Step 1. Select your test type

Step 2. Enter your licence details

Step 3. Select your test date

I am asked to put in a date, but I have no understanding of availabilities
I have to just select a date I like, and hope for the best

Step 4. Select your test centre

Step 5. Find a test time

OK — no tests available. To change the date I need to navigate back 3 screens and select another random date

Note: This “Change” button only allows me to change the location of the driving centre. It feels unhelpful when all I want is to know WHEN I can book a test at Bromley

My theory test expiry date isn’t until mid-2023, and I didn’t enter an instructors reference number.

Note: I also tried 20 different random dates ranging from 1 week to 6 months in the future

I changed the location, and no matter which location I select I see the same message. No tests available.

This is where my journey comes to an abrupt end. I have spent upwards of an hour simply trying to find any available date, at any point in the future, at any test centre I can find — to no avail.

So let’s break this down into a simple flow to show what is happening.

  1. Select a date
  2. Search for a test centre
  3. Select a test centre
  4. See there are no dates available

I can not proceed to the next step, unless I find an available date, which I have not been able to successfully find in all my attempts over the last few weeks.

In order to find an available date (if there are any) I have to fail countless times, with no indication about when there might possibly be an availability at any point in the future. So, what should this journey look like?

I’ve created a quick simple flow to show an improved journey.

  1. Search for a test centre
  2. Select a test centre
  3. View available dates at selected test centre
  4. IF there are dates — Select available date & proceed with booking
  5. IF there are no dates — Set an email reminder for when dates become available

The key difference here is that you would not be putting the onus on the user to select an unknown date, from a set of unknown availabilities. It switches this into a journey that allows a user to select their preferred location for their test (likely where they have practiced with an instructor) and then view the available times upfront, without having to take a “stab in the dark” at what could possibly be available.

I hope that I can someday book my driving test successfully. I hope my driving test is simple and straightforward. I hope my full licence is as beautiful as it is in my dreams. I hope.

(I may have just re-watched The Shawshank Redemption)…