Re-imagining the California DMV website

Posted on February 22, 2019


I recently visited my local California Department of Motor Vehicles field office to renew my driver license and, because I scheduled an appointment ahead of time, my experience wasn’t the nightmare it’s traditionally made out to be.

However, the designer in me couldn’t help but think about how the entire DMV process could be re-designed, both offline and online.

I’m still waiting to receive my new REAL ID license, so I went to the DMV website to learn how I could find the status. While there, I realized there is a huge opportunity to re-imagine its user experience, so I spent a few hours designing a prototype.


Re-imagining the California DMV websiteThe key goals of DMV digital should be to:

  • Increase website traffic where users can self-serve
  • Increase kiosk traffic where users can self-serve
  • Decrease field office visits (because of the successful implementation of the above two bullets)


I came up with an “Online. Not in line.” slogan, which I incorporated into the homepage to better help socialize the web and kiosks options.

There’s significant creative opportunities around a campaign like this to drive people to self-service or be more proactive using the website and kiosks to be better prepared before making a field office visit.


Without getting too detailed in a critique of the current DMV website, there are two areas that should be of primary focus:

  • Content: The content should be significantly consolidated, edited and made more concise. Much of it is redundant, wordy and extraneous.
  • User interface: The aesthetic is clearly dated, but the use of graphics in certain instances is unnecessary. A clean, simple text-based approach with a more app/kiosk feel would make the experience feel less intimidating and cumbersome.

What I did

I created prototypes of the home and secondary pages, focusing on simplicity and an app/kiosk user interface.


Tools I used


It’s doubtful I’ll continue working on this, but would love to hear feedback or perhaps start a conversation around how the DMV website could be re-imagined to better serve the people of California.

Thank you

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who works at DMV, especially those of you on the front lines in the field offices.

Decades of bureaucracy coupled with the reach and role the agency has on every Californian has created a Herculean, thankless challenge for everyone who works there. While we all know it could be made better, you’re the ones in the trenches.

As a proud California resident, I hope you challenge status quo thinking and re-imagine how DMV can be re-designed — offline and online — and become a positive conduit for state pride — internally and externally — and for how public service should work.

Thank you for serving California.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh and co-founder/CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

Close window