The MVA Website is Terrible

Over the weekend I had to renew the registration for my Honda Accord.  While spending $135 in the middle of prime Holiday shopping season definitely was not something I wanted to do, what choice did I have?

While Maryland is obviously overcharging millions of drivers in registration renewal fees each year it seems with all that money the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) could afford to build a good and well designed website.  After all the MVA is gouging us with high fees.  However, a clean and easy-to-understand website is not what you get when you visit the MVA website.   Here is a picture of the MVA's frontpage when I went to pay my vehicle registration renewal;

mva website

Not only is it confusing but it wasn't clear where I needed to go to pay.  In the documents I got in the mail they say

Registration renewals can be done on-line at, by mail, by telephone at 1-410-768-7000 or using the self service kiosk located at MVA offices.

So at least I was under the impression I was in the right place but was hoping that I would save time and sanity by paying the registration fee online.  As you can see from the above picture the website is confusing and clunky to say the least.  I didn't see anywhere where it says “Pay Here” or “Pay Online” or anything with these types of terms.  Why wouldn't you want to make it clear where to give you money?  The web designers for the MVA website seemed to forget it's better to “Keep it Simple Stupid.”  Just look at all the options you have when you land on the front of the website and how poorly laid out it is.  I imagine the intent a visitor has when visiting the MVA website is to get information about vehicle and driver services in Maryland OR to pay a fee.

Whatever web design firm got hired to build the MVA website must have also done and probably charged waaaay to much money to do it too.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were some serious security holes in the MVA website in addition to it being poorly laid out.  Let's be serious, there are no good web designers in the government.  This is something Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, emphasized at the 2012 State of the Word at Wordcamp San Francisco.  If the creator of WordPress, what this site is built on and millions of others, doesn't like government websites he knows what he is talking about.

This is just me complaining really but I'd be curios to know if you live in Maryland and if you have found the MVA website confusing and frustrating too?  What did you need to do on the MVA website which you found difficult to accomplish?


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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

4 thoughts on “The MVA Website is Terrible”

  1. The web designers had very little input on the site’s design and development. They realize how useless the site is. As we all know here at MVA, the site’s failure comes from management’s poorly thought out decisions, much like the healthcare web site.

    When non-technical managers decide to manage things completely beyond their scope, this is what you get.

    1. Do you work for MVA Dave? It sounds like you do.

      I think the issue is when non-technical people want to inject their opinions and design ideas into websites. It’s not necessarily bad all the time, but they shouldn’t be given full creative control. Most people don’t realize a well designed website will good security measures does not take that much to build and maintain. You just need the right team of web designers and administrators to handle it.

      When I visit the MVA website all I want to do is know where to pay, do it, and leave.

  2. Yes I do work here, and can tell you that the web people had nothing to do with the design. Understamd that the decision maker is a CIO who worked at AOL for years (really, what chance do we have?). The webmaster spent years trying to get these people to make the right decisions, but they don’t care. Want to know why?

    Because they know that the customer CANNOT get our services anywhere else. So why should they care about you, the public? Ego and politics are the only thing that matters to the executives. The public thinks our web team doesn’t know what its doing. The employees know that the problem is with management. Honestly, if you knew the skills the web people have, you’d wonder why they aren’t allowed to make web decisions.

    But don’t believe me, go ask anyone at MVA about the web team, you’d be surprised what you learn.

    1. Thanks for posting this so people can better understand the MVA website designers predicament Dave. AOL? Yeah, like he would know what he is doing.

      I’ve heard similar complaints before from web developers and designers. CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, etc. obviously don’t know what they are talking about. It’s kind of clear the political ego going on when you see Martin O’Malley’s face on the website.

      It’s true you can’t go somewhere else. The MVA website has a monopoly.

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