Usability Engineering in Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Interior E-services

You are not your user.

Designing usable software, websites or mobile applications requires that you test designs with actual users.

At UXBERT Labs, UX Research is a key part of our process. Whether it’s a brand new design, or a revamp of an existing one, interviewing users and running usability testing is essential. Starting projects with research means we’re designing based on actual data rather than assumptions.

Usability testing shows you exactly where (and why) your customers have problems using your product. Companies that invest in usability testing see direct return on investment (ROI) through increased sales and revenue, lower development cost and time, lower support costs, increased productivity and user satisfaction

In this series, we’ll be conducting informal research sessions to demonstrate the kinds of insights that can be collected from even the smallest amount of research.

Usability testing shows you exactly where (and why) your customers have problems using your product.

Websites tested will include governmental services, e-commerce sites, business services and more.

Our aim is to show that regardless of whether a site’s purpose is informational or transactional, testing with real users provides valuable insights, immediately. And when these insights are fed back into the design process, it results in positive user experiences.

Similar to when we do formal usability engineering research, analysis of issues identified and suggested solutions are drawn from a combination of scientific research-based usability guidelines and an understanding of best practices based on expert research experience.

Eye-tracking technology is also used to support analysis of issues that revolve around layout, navigation and interaction.

Test Subject: Saudi Ministry of Interior Website

For our first set of sessions, we asked users to complete 2 simple tasks on the Saudi Ministry of Interior ( website.

The Ministry of Interior website offers Saudi residents several e-services such as iqama renewal, driving license renewals, traffic violation enquiries and health insurance. It allows people to conveniently access these government services while aiming to minimise frustrations associated with the bureaucratic process.

A total of 3 users took part in the tests, each of whom were asked to use the site to perform the following tasks:

• Check for any unpaid traffic violations

• Check to see if their fingerprint scan had been successfully registered and updated in the system

Ideal User Journey For Task Success

The following is a list of the steps the user should ideally take to navigate to task success in the quickest, most efficient way.

Task 1: Checking For Unpaid Violations

  • Step 1: Hover over “Electronic Inquiries” label in the global navigation menu on the Homepage
  • Step 2: Hover over “Traffic” in the “Electronic Inquiries” drop down
  • Step 3: Click on “Public Query Traffic Violation”
  • Step 4: Enter personal details and Image Code
  • Step 5: Click ‘View’


Task 2: Checking If Fingerprint Is Updated

  • Step 1Hover over “Electronic Inquiries” label in the global navigation menu on the Homepage
  • Step 2Hover over “Passports” in the “Electronic Inquiries” drop down
  • Step 3: Click on Public Query FingerPrint Enrollment
  • Step 4: Enter your ID Number and Image Code
  • Step 5: Click ‘View’


Issues and Recommendations

Reporting of identified issues begins with a single usability fault that was identified across both tasks.

It’s followed by issues listed in the order with which they occurred as users went through the journey.

Common Issue: Missed Label “Electronic Inquiries” On the Main Navigational Menu

When asked to check for their traffic violations or fingerprint status, almost all users went straight to the E-services label.

Users typically get an idea of the menu contents from tab labels. However, in this instance, users clicked through each category and reviewed items in the submenus one by one to figure out where they could find the traffic violations and fingerprint options.

When users compared the ‘E-Services’ and ‘Electronic Inquiries’ menu options, they couldn’t understand the difference between the submenus for each category because there was a lot of redundancy in the available options.

This issue points to potential issues with the website’s labeling and information architecture. Bad information architecture causes the majority of outright user failures (Nielsen, 2004).



Potential solution for this type of issue are twofold:

Make menu labels more descriptive

Tab labels should be clearly descriptive of their function or destination. Tabs should be descriptive enough to allow users to know what it contains and to minimize selection errors. When tab labels cannot be made clear because of the lack of space, include descriptive tips when the user hovers over a specific menu.

Redesign the website’s information architecture

Serious issues with the website’s site map and navigation need more than just descriptive labels. Designers need to present information in a structure that reflects user needs and the site’s goals.

Good information architecture enables users to understand the nature of the site’s organizational relationships, supports them in locating information efficiently and reduces the chances of users boredom or frustration.

Improving the structure of the website so that it is more intuitive for users can be done with the help of organizing techniques like card sorting.

Card sorting can help you figure out the optimal menu structure by telling you where people would want to find something. It’s a reliable method for finding patterns in how and where users would expect to find content or functionality. It can also help you figure about appropriate nomenclature for your menu labels.

Task 1

Issue 1: Arabic Error Message in English UI

When the user logged into his account to check the unpaid traffic violations, he got an error message after entering his personal details. The error message was in Arabic so the user couldn’t understand what went wrong.



It’s necessary to ensure consistency of elements through the website. Language inconsistencies not only confuse your users, they also reduce their trust in your brand, degrade website credibility and convey an overall lack of attention to detail.

Research suggests that the number of errors made using visually inconsistent displays is reliably higher than when using visually consistent displays. Tasks performed on more consistent interfaces have reduced task completion times, fewer errors, more user satisfaction and reduced learning time.

Issue 2: Inconsistent UI When Users are Logged In

There is an inconsistency between the interfaces when users are logged in and when they are not. When users are logged in, the ‘Public Query for Traffic Violations’ option is available under both E-services and Electronic Inquiries. If the user isn’t logged in, it’s not available under E-services.



Information across the website should be organized consistently to allow users to perform tasks in the same sequence and manner across similar conditions.

Consistency is acknowledged as an essential design principle and should be applied throughout the content and interactions within the website.

Task 2

Issue 1: Fingerprint Status Message at the Top Was Not Noticeable

When the user clicked ‘View’ after entering his personal details, he did not notice the fingerprint status message at the top. Because of this, he entered the ‘Image Code’ for verification twice because he thought the page refreshed. The user had change blindness, a phenomenon where users do not always notice the changes that occur on the screen. This change blindness affects critical information and leads to user confusion and task failure.



Users can easily overlook changes in state because the visual presentation blends in with the rest of the page. Slow feedback, long load times, and extraneous things competing for your user’s attention can all make them blind to seemingly obvious changes on the page.

One way to deal with change blindness is to minimize visual interruptions by avoiding page reloads where possible. When page reloads are necessary, keep attention focused on the action button location while the page loads, then display any state changes in the same general area. The ideal solution is to transform the button into a progress indicator.

Another technique to deal with this issue is to strategically place important new visual elements close to the point where the user’s’ eyes are already focused. Participants in change blindness studies are better at detecting changes in the center of the visual field, where most of their attention is focused.

Using appropriate visual emphasis such as contrast, size, and padding can ensure that important elements are noticeable.

Issue 2: Users Thought The “Passport” Label Was Unclear

The user did not expect to find the fingerprint query under “Passports”. It wasn’t immediately obvious to him that he could check his fingerprint status from ‘Passports’. He expected to find it under the ‘Expats’ category. He mentioned that the Arabic word “Al Jawazat” made more sense than the English label “Passports”.



This kind of issue arises when you rely on direct translation from Arabic to English content or vice versa. When creating your website copy, you’ll need to make an effort to think about what exactly it is you want to communicate and how best to do it by taking into account the context of the users.

A key component of a website’s information architecture is an effective nomenclature or labeling system.

A number of IA tools can be used to determine effective nomenclature and organization for the website including but not limited to card sorting and content inventories.

Points of Note

  • Most of the website’s issues revolved around issues with site information architecture.
  • Several labels were unclear to users because of which users struggled to find information.
  • The website had language inconsistencies (Arabic Error Message in English UI) and inconsistencies between the interfaces when the users were logged in and when they were not.
  • Because of potential issues with the website’s information architecture, there is a need for card sorting usability engineering to redesign it.


At UXBERT Labs we specialise in using scientific UCD processes to design world-class innovative and beautiful experiences. Hosting Saudi Arabia’s first commercial and state-of-the-art Usability Lab, and a team CX Researchers, Designers and Developers on-site in our Riyadh office, we’ll help you create customer experiences that make your business stand out and keep your customers coming back. If you have a project you’d like to work with us on, get in touch at

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