A navigation design practice at Ontario Digital Service


Subnavigation system design provides better wayfinding around

Project Partner: Ontario Digital Service (ODS), Rapid prototyping lab
The province of Ontario established an independent organization, Ontario Digital Service (ODS), to address the trend of digital transformation. The rapid prototyping lab practices agile methodologies to improve digital service in a short period of time in order to keep the government moving forward efficiently.

Overview: We have observed that the current platform isn’t meeting the basic needs of wayfinding around the site, which makes it hard for users to keep track of where they came from or how to return to a previous page. From an internal perspective, the inconsistent navigation system causes content management teams to receive negative feedback submissions, support calls and negative correspondences from each ministry. We aimed to facilitate better wayfinding for both internal and external perspectives.

Primary users: The public

Internal stakeholder: Content management team

Timeline: Four 1-week sprints, Aug 2018

My role: UI/UX designer and user researcher


“No simple wayfinding around”


Major findings

This project experienced 4 prototype iterations and included mobile and desktop interface design. After several discussions, we identified that there are three types of subsites or pages on First there are content-heavy subsites or pages such as Consumer Protection Ontario and Ontario Digital Service that may or may not have interactive widgets like maps, data tables and custom searches. Secondly, there are application sites with a login and account. For example, OSAP a financial aid program that can help student pay for college or university by offering grants or a student loan, requires users to login and check their accounts about how much they can get and should pay back. Thirdly,there are transaction pages, the major services that provides. For instance, the online service of renewing a driver’s licence, requires the public to fill out the application step by step on the page.


Most recent navigation elements

Content pages

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Provide filters for results page: all the information relevant on all of; information on specific sections/pages.

Simple application pages- simple

  • The sub menu colour will change based on the ministry's chosen colour.
  • Menu dropdown for more content

Complicated application pages

  • Give the web editor the freedom to decide if breadcrumbs are needed.
  • Specific search function in the sub menu will bring users to a new page to search for information within the site.

Transaction pages

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Steps navigation bar and when the user completes a section, a checkmark will show up as an indicator.


This is my last project at ODS. After four months, I had a great understanding of how powerful the prototypes and user testing are, in both low and high-fidelity prototypes. Moreover, I have the capabilities to design digital services and practice in an agile way. While doing this project, I noticed that following the design guide constrains the possibility of innovation and the designer’s creativity.

The most lovely and unforgettable moments with the rapid prototyping team are the weekly retro perspectives. During this activity, we shared our achievements, reflections, and items of improvement together. We established a strong relationship between co-workers from team to organization. I am so grateful for having those understanding and supportive co-workers. I enjoyed every moment at ODS.