Design for intake assessment on tablet.

code shown for button element in zeplin

Project Overview

SDSU-DUIP is a for-profit institution that provides assessment, and customized treatment plans for court-mandated DUI offenders. In about 6 months we designed and built a software solution for their paper-based assessment process.

DUIP logo

My role was UX Designer, and our team included a Senior Software developer, an IT Director, and an Executive Director.

Project Timeline

Getting To Know Our Client

Engaging our client, setting expectations, asking the right questions and listening is a most critical step in getting the job done right.

Interviews and Testing

We interviewed a veteran educator, and conducted usability tests on the current platform using that person as a participant.

Competitive Analysis

We sampled a handful of similar products and experiences, took screenshots and used the insights in a design studio to generate ideas and create our final solutions.

Our Findings

We presented our task, process, and solution to the entire hackathon.


Every one of the 9 teams presented a compelling redesign for their client, but we were chosen as the winners.

The Problem

At first, it was about gathering project requirements, and prioritizing. As we were asking the initial questions to our client, it was in the forefront of my mind to empathize with our users.

We discussed basic principles for the work ahead: softening tone wherever possible, gamification, and attention to color contrast and text size; with an overall goal of response rate improvement.

I got together with some friends and a family member who fit our audience, to get some raw insights into what we were dealing with. Through these sessions, I was able to ground our assumptions in some initial feedback that guided us through the process.

Our work mattered to our audience

Opalin Dashboard

My initial queries as mentioned above produced compelling stories about how folks in this kind of situation felt. Many were carrying deep feelings of shame, anxiety, and had concerns around trust regarding the personal and sensitive nature of the questions. After all, their health, family, job, and freedom were hanging in the balance with this assessment experience as a crucial diagnostic tool, and court-mandated program.

The Journey


We were given a lengthy paper assessment, and had to determine a way to break it up into logical chunks, to make the steps clear and reduce cognitive load.

Opalin Dashboard

The assessment had 71 questions, and we were looking for a way to pace the flow using progressive disclosure and gamification. Our assumption was that this would both increase completion rate as well as accuracy of information.

Opalin Dashboard

I spent some time putting together a wireframe mockup of the layout, and created guides for typography and UI signifiers for progress rate and completion.

Opalin Dashboard

Early stage wireframe.


Some of the original colors chosen didn't hold up when checked for accessibility, and I made clear notes once colors were chosen that did pass WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

With color guides in place, we moved into designing at a higher fidelity.

The Crisis

After a period of time, the developer and I began to notice an increasing difference in our output, as shown below.


The Solution

We met and quickly reviewed options for making handoff of design to development clearer, and more efficient. We chose Zeplin, a cloud-based plugin for Sketch that would always have the most up to date version readily available for all.

Opalin Dashboard

Examples of various screens. This is an idea of what the project looked like after launch.


Final Thoughts

I loved the gritty nature of this project, from the subject matter to the challenge of designing on a slim budget and timeline. What still lingers in the months afterwards, are the two things mentioned earlier in this case study - design/development sync and validation through a formalized research and testing process.

Ideally, my first priority would be to go on site, and see how well we did and what could be improved. I would chat with the counselors about their needs and how the current build is working for them. I would also observe the clients completing the assessment, and get their thoughts about the experiencs, and document the sessions. Lastly, I would advocate that executive stakeholders were in the room to see for themselves, and make the best case for any needed improvements in another round of design.