The Brief

New York City’s Department of Records and Information Services’ (DORIS) OpenRecords Portal has a history of civic collaboration: it began as a hackathon project in 2015, and is built on open source code. The OpenRecords portal was also recently selected by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards Bright Idea winner. You can view the site here: and you can play around on the site (create users, submit inquiries, etc.) on this test site:

Now, DORIS is looking for dedicated, enthusiastic UX practitioners to join together, dive into UX and civic technology, and take the user experience of the OpenRecords portal to the next level.

The Challenge

Making a New Request

How might we help a user get their request to the correct agency? This will require education about other agencies and what they can provide. (Often, they default to requesting from DORIS because they cannot tell there is another agency they should be asking).

How might we improve the submission form and messaging while accounting for the different questions/information required by different agencies? Should users be notified that requests will be viewable by public?

How might we make the flow and form itself as simple and accessible as possible?

How I designed it

This design aspires to...

Make the records request process as transparent as possible. Because portions of the record request is visible to the public while others are not, it was important that the design be upfront with what information was collected, why it was collected, and how it's being used.

Make the records request process as fast as possible for seasoned users. I wanted each page to have a purpose, and for that purpose to be extremely clear to the user every step along the way. For users who know exactly what they need, I wanted an experience that would allow them to fly through the process in less then 30 seconds.

Provide clarity and context for new or unsure users. For a new user or for someone who isn't 100% sure of what they're looking for or how they go about finding it, I created a system that only provides the information they need, when they need it, and in context to where they are on the page or in the flow. The goal was to provide more context around each decision so a user has the relevant information to make the best choice based on their needs: Who is this agency? Are they the right one for my request? What information do they have? By providing the right information at the right time, we give more power to the user, and also improve the likelihood of getting the right request to the right agency.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

It's a simple, practical, scalable design that can be used as a framework for other aspects Open Records experience.

Built With

Share this project: