The right information level can make or break an experience.
While working with my DocuSign Product and Design partners, I had the opportunity to design a research study investigating the impact different information levels can have on a user. We knew our users were going to experience a wait time as our system completed a verification process. We needed to ensure users weren’t frustrated as they waited and ideally turn that waiting time into an opportunity to inform and build trust. We discussed our options, explored concepts, and evaluated them ultimately providing an improved product offering.
The most important agreements require us to ask “Can I see your ID?”
For some highly sensitive documents, people need to verify a signer first. DocuSign ID Verification is a solution that enables senders to verify signers’ identities before they access agreements. It supports government photo IDs and eIDs (electronic identifications) by analyzing the document security features (barcodes, holograms, etc..) and matching the name on the agreement against the name on the ID. After a successful verification, the signer can view and sign the agreement.
Your brand needs to shine brightest when things go wrong.
After the system scans an ID, background checks are performed forcing signers to wait to find out if their ID will be verified. Failed verification can happen for a variety of reasons: a blurry image, an incorrectly cropped photo, etc. We needed to make sure the experience of waiting for an ID to verify didn’t overwhelm signers and we didn’t want them to give up after a bad try. We needed our brand to shine so signers would tell their colleagues how simple it is to verify their identity and sign agreements with DocuSign. As the lead researcher on this project, I worked with my design partner to explore strategies to ensure users weren’t frustrated or overwhelmed as they waited for their ID to be verified.
Early designs provided limited information while a signer waited.
Our initial designs shared little information with a signer as they waited to find out if the system would successfully verify their ID document. The system informed the user: “We’re uploading images. Don’t close the browser.” As the signer waits, the system analyzes the ID and the API performs checks to ensure the ID is valid. At the time of the study, wait times were exceeding 15 seconds and initial designs didn’t tell the signer how it performed these checks or provide updates to the signer while they waited. We lacked in-depth API details about potential fail points during the verification process, had tight deadlines, and were tasked with deciding if adding animations during the wait period were table stakes or a nice to have. We needed data to help drive our decision-making process!
Will signers feel more comfortable waiting if we provide more information while they wait?
I designed a study that evaluated both success and fail states so we could compare them. My Design partner created three prototypes with different levels of information for the signer as they waited for their ID to be verified. Each design had either limited information, some information, or detailed information.
We tested three designs resulting in six conditions. Each condition provided a different level of information to a signer resulting in either a successful or failed verification of their ID. Participants were randomly assigned to Design A, Design B, or Design C.
We created success and failure test groups so we could compare both end states across the three designs.
We tested three information levels; limited, some, and detailed.
I asked users for feedback and collected metrics.
I collected feedback on the following metrics, analyzed the data, and made comparisons across the different designs and end states. Metrics included:
- Perception of being informed
- Perception of time
- Sentiment (positive vs negative)
- Perception of success
More information resulted in failure feeling positive.
The team learned that detailed updates on how the system is verifying the ID and what is happening while a signer waits felt positive even when a signer failed to verify their identity. We used these insights to design a more positive experience by making sure signers were informed, had low frustration levels, and perceived the time to verify was shorter than they expected.
Design with the following goals in mind:
Keep users informed: Participants who failed and experienced detailed updates reported positive sentiment levels.
Participants that interacted with the detailed info design received details about what information was being scanned on their ID document and how the system was checking their identity. The system provided seven information updates while they waited for their ID to verify:
- Uploading images of your ID
- Checking for blur and glare
- Reviewing ID information
- Checking ID expiration date
- Finalizing security checks
- Matching ID name to documents
- Your ID has been verified or we can’t verify your ID
When a participant failed to verify, most who received this level of detailed information still reported to have a positive experience. Participants who failed to verify and received less information reported low positive sentiment levels. This supports the concept that providing more information to users as they wait for the system to return a result is beneficial even if the system fails.
Reduce frustration: Participants who failed and experienced detailed updates reported low frustration levels.
When a signer failed to verify, most who received detailed information reported low frustration levels. Frustration levels for the success groups were fairly constant regardless of design type as you’d expect because they didn’t reach a fail state. Having information about what the system is doing while it attempts to verify helped ease the emotional state of participants.
Reduce perceived wait time: Participants who failed and experienced detailed updates reported lower perceived elapsed wait time. Actual wait time was held constant for all groups.
When a participant failed to verify, most who received detailed information reported wait times that were less than the actual elapsed time. Sharing information that is relevant and in context to what the system is scanning and verifying provides a cognitive task for participants to focus on instead of passively staring at a spinning wheel. Providing informed distractions with relevant content may have helped the experience feel like it took less time than it actually did. Additionally, the low perceived wait time may have helped contribute to the low frustration levels and the high positive sentiment. The team was excited to see this finding as we wanted to ensure waiting wasn’t a frustrating experience. Find ways to inform users while they wait!
You may be asking “What happened next?”
At DocuSign, Research and Design teams partner together during the formative phase of the design cycle to test concepts and validate hypotheses. In this example, we were successful in collecting directional data to help ensure final designs would keep signers feeling positive even when they experienced a wait time and a failed end state. The findings above illustrate participants viewing detailed contextual information while they wait for their ID to verify reported low perceived wait times, low frustration levels, and a positive overall experience even when failing to verify. We continued iterating on the designs after the study and launched our ID Verification experience as a component of DocuSign Identify. As you work with your teams remember to:
- Keep users informed: especially with contextually relevant information
- Reduce frustration: don’t just think about the happy path; consider failure states too
- Reduce perceived wait time: provide relevant distractions to keep users informed
More opportunities lie ahead. This work demonstrates that positive sentiment, frustration level, and perceived wait time may be impacted by the amount of relevant contextual information shared with a user. There are opportunities to further improve experiences by exploring:
- What types of information would increase the magnitude of these factors?
- What delivery mechanisms (animations vs interactivity) would have the most impact?
- What impact does information relevance have on sentiment?