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;
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 www.mva.maryland.gov, 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 HealthCare.gov 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?