UX/UI Design

Team: Ann Lei, Danqi Zhang

Responsibilities: Research, Concept Development, Ideation, UX/UI Design, User Flow, Wireframes, Interface Visual Design, Prototype

Timeline: 7 weeks

Software: Sketch, Flinto, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop

Maricopa County 

We collaborate with Maricopa county to work on its permit website. Maricopa County is located in the south-central part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It serves the public in areas including public safety, public health, flood control, education, parks, libraries, and more. The project was focused on three departments of the permitting services, which are Planning and development, Environmental services, and Air quality. 

Our goal is to make the application process as easy to understand as possible for users, as well as to reduce the amount of work of copying information from paper to the system for the staff. We want to give users clearer and easier understanding of the heavy load information for the process, less stress and faster procedure. In addition, providing an account for each user to check, edit, and track the applications they have worked on.

The challenge

Maricopa County now has multiple departments with different severs that cause confusion for users while applying for permits, sometimes users even have to go through the application process multiple times. For example, pdf application form cannot undo boxes users have checked. The only way to fix it is to close the tab and start all over again. Additionally, there is no way for users to save the application and work on it later if they have information that needs to require from elsewhere.

Virtual presentation with Maricopa county

(Please click on the sound button at bottom right corner to enable sound)  


Maricopa county is currently using lots of text to present information for the permit application process, and throughout the research, we have found that most people do not have the patience to read. That causes mistakes when users are applying for they skipped a lot of important details.


In addition, Maricopa county seems to lie in a lack of clear instructions for what is necessary for the application and some usability issues in the application. For a first-time user, the learning curve is too high and currently involves quite a bit of reading to understand what files are required, how to upload these files, the pricing of the permits, and what parts of the application are/are not required. For frequent users, the application is not user-friendly in that there is no option to apply for a permit for a previous site and requires the user to input the same information and upload

the same files over and over again. 

Learning from professionals


Daryl Fellows | Development Services Supervisor

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Lucette Ramirez | Communications Officer

Key findings

  • The vast amount of information that the user needs to read and prep before applying for air quality permits. The users are often confused by instructions written at the beginning of the application.

  • A lot of users have problems with opening PDF with web browsers.

  • Most new users applying for a general dust permit often leave fields left blank or putting in the wrong information. The main reason that dust permits are not available online is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rules put in place for most of the air quality permits.

  • Applicants usually call and ask for guidance to fill out the application. After the permit is submitted, they commonly ask for the status of the application.


Design process

Ideation sketches

Our goal was to generate as many innovative and creative ideas as possible. We started with creating storyboards, and we select the ideas that work the best and take those details into two main concepts. 


Wireframe + User flow

Key feature

We designed a guide feature for users to easily find the departments and permits they are looking for. For users who are familiar with the departments, they can apply by departments. For users that have no clue, we designed simple questions to direct them to the permits they might need. For users that have applied before, they can find their past applications in the past application button, and apply for new projects or renew their original permits.

More features 

  • General "Guide Me" button on the main permit page to direct and provide users the permits they might need

  • One simple question on each page to avoid overwhelming text for users

  • Show process bar at the bottom of the question page to give users an understanding how far are they from the final result

  • Shopping cart feature to save their permits to work on it later

  • Provide guideline, PDF application, and online application link for users to add to their account

  • Single question 

  • Shopping cart quick view

  • Shopping cart 

  • Provide Account for users to save permits and personal information

  • View application status in their account

  • Save and edit permits to work on it later

  • Enter common information for future application Autofill

  • Account page

Visual design

I want to not only improve users' experience of applying but also the overall feeling when they are working on this complex process. Thus, I redesign the website and mainly use images and icons to lead content, also decrease the amount of text to provide users a less stressful and overwhelming experience. 

Original home page

Original permit page




The video shows the full process of a user trying to apply for a permit. The user goes through two main functions and what he/she can do in his/her account.

What the client think

"I have been working in project roles for 15 years at the County and this is the closest and best thing I’ve seen in creating a true one-stop shopping experience. The models were great and it really made me wish I could go to our site now and have that functionality, really liked seeing the models."

Doug Kober

Special Project Manager

Maricopa County Planning & Development