Enhanced Biometric Passports

Service Design project by Emily Wilkinson

    Scope of work:

  • User experience
  • Research

About the project

This project was a live brief with the Department of Work and Pensions. In pairs my partner, Bradley Smith and I, set out to create a new government service.


The UK Government’s Digital Service (GDS) isresponsible for the Gov.uk website, GDS is partof the Cabinet Office, their job is the digitaltransformation of the government. Our brief was to create a new service, this could be based on a current need or a more fanciful, speculative future need.
To begin this project, we set out looking at other where the UK sat on a ‘government matrix’ in terms of how digitally advanced we are. After doing this research we came across Dubai’s future plans for airport fast tracking, this is where we were inspired to create our service ‘Enhanced Biometric Passports’.

Development process

This project, from beginning to end, was driven by user research. As UI designers, we love to make an interface look pretty, however because gov.uk's design guidelines are so strict, this project was almost completely focussed on the users experience.

After conducting initial competitor and primary research, we went on to refine what our service was going to be. We initially defined our key user, who in our case was the travelling business man. Our goal was to create a fast track through border control using simply ones facial biometrics, without the need of a physical passport.

We realised that we are trying to tackle a technologically challenging subject where we asked ourself questions such as, ‘would users feel comfortable using block chain technology to store their biometrics?’ and ‘how reliable is facial recognition technology?’ Interview feedback however proved that users would feel comfortable about having their biometrics secured online.

After defining our service, we decided to create the online application form for an Enhanced Biometric Passport. To begin this process we printed out the full current online application form to see which areas we could take out information from. Through doing this it is was interesting to see in some areas questions had been repeated twice, only worded slightly differently. For our application form, we managed to get all the important information down to 17 steps, including a progress indicator to show how far along in the process the user is.

Enhanced Biometric Passports process imageEnhanced Biometric Passports process image

Final result

Throughout this project we undertook some challenging questions, such as, ‘could children use this service?’, ‘how would women wearing Niqabs use this service?’ and ‘is this service eligible for users with facial differences such as burns?’ Constantly asking ourselves questions throughout and putting ourselves in the users position is what made our project a success.

review design document
  • Enhanced Biometric Passports result image
  • Enhanced Biometric Passports result image