Usability Research:

Get it Done app

How do you redesign reporting, when it’s fused within the entirety of the app?

Launched in May 2016, the City of San Diego’s solution to potholes, the Get it Done mobile app, is wildly successful. Receiving 35,000 requests annually and with over 2 million reports in the system, it was time to evaluate the effectiveness of the City’s communication to app users and update the product roadmap. The project focused on interactive workshops to drive understanding into app use, and reporting needs. Additional interviews were conducted to better understand the environments that participants worked in while using the app and resulting information. 

To really get a good understanding of the City’s communication based on App use we looked at user activities, the resulting business activities, and communication to users on those activities. We ran design workshops with residents, City staff and Council District office staff to first identify the what, when, where of reporting, and their actual needs during those times. User Experience Designers worked in tandem with researchers, illustrating screens and interactions as we went.

Client: City of San Diego
  • Formal interviews
  • 5 Workshops

We heard:

  • How passionate residents were about the usefulness of the app, and their empathy for the City, its staff and budget.
  • How City staff are managing to get these tasks done regardless of multiple challenges with software systems not communicating well.
  • How District staff manage to support residents with gathering more details that require extensive calls to get resolution for a resident.

The workshops helped:

  • High reporting residents find their peers, and gain more empathy for their neighboring districts, and the City staff.
  • City staff identified where training is not working, uncovered GID gaps and where their existing methods/tools fill or miss those gaps.
  • District staff gained more insight into the challenges of residents and City staff, and learned new ways of using the existing tools to analyze GID reach.

Process Workflow

To solve the challenges our client was facing we fully documented the Get it Done user journey from seeing a dead animal, reporting it, getting the results; staff receiving the incoming request, locating the animal and then either cleaning up and disposing of the animal or referring it, and closing the ticket and then developing internal KPIs and analysis; and District staff following up with the department to get more information, reporting their numbers internally and communicating to the broader public what’s taking place. The entirety of this process helped us better understand how the resident’s report traveled from the neighborhood to the annual reports departments supplied the mayor, and the importance of accuracy across the entire journey.

What we uncovered:

Our three populations were unique based on their distinct needs and use cases. From working with each user group, we developed distinct use cases and outlined their work process, and the overlap between user groups. Resident’s focus was naturally on getting their submitted task done—they behaved like project managers tracking the project over time. City Staff used the reports to chart department efficiencies. Council District Staff use Get it Done data to track conditions in their district and report on successes to their constituents.

Systemizing Reports

We learned from District and City staff that reporting back to residents is time consuming and often interrupts their other tasks. The type of content needed could be general or very specific. Creating opportunities to answer resident (and staff) questions without taxing department staff led to following framework.

In-app Reporting Spectrum

Setting expectations in the App
Lacking an in-app response to a report makes it hard to judge when to escalate a problem.


  1. The app does not include a confirmation screen.
  2. Residents have unrealistic expectations of the time it takes to complete the task they’ve reported.
  3. Residents find the app is the easiest method to reporting to the City, therefore they report everything on it.

Develop realistic expectations in app users.

Reporting Beyond the App

Dashboard success metrics

  • Simplify dashboard choices to put the information in the hands of people who can do something about it
  • Surface existing dashboards for shared use

Salesforce dashboards are not easy to set up, resulting in low usage by staff members.


  1. Simplify Salesforce dashboard options.
  2. Identify existing dashboards to make them accessible to departments.
  3. Identify existing dashboards for use by District offices.

Is it time to evaluate your customers’ experience? Book your free consultation to see if this is the right fit for getting your business back on track.

Startup Business Strategy
Website Strategy