All good things come to an end. This is also true for the IRMA made easy project. However, this does not mean that all IRMA UX developments need to stop. In contrast: the IRMA team is committed to improving the IRMA user experience, and the IRMA community on slack is going strong with suggestions for improvements. In this blog post, we reflect on the IRMA made easy project and suggest a direction for future developments.

Looking back

In retrospect, the IRMA made easy project went different than expected but, more importantly, also achieved more than expected. This is primarily thanks to various unexpected collaborations and team efforts and the many significant voluntary contributions of the broad IRMA community.

Around the start of IRMA made easy, we learned that the municipality of Amsterdam was busy designing an ideal identity management app. For this, they had developed a concept of a digital wallet that holds personal information. This idea fitted the existing IRMA technology perfectly and solved many of the usability issues of the old IRMA app. Fortunately, we were able to adjust the IRMA made easy project and join forces with Amsterdam and the Privacy by Design Foundation to get the concept implemented.

In four distinct but overlapping phases, the IRMA made easy project worked towards making the IRMA ecosystem more user-friendly, accessible and secure. It was quite an adventure.

The beginning

During the first phase of the project, we identified potential issues with the old app and possible directions for improvements. Furthermore, we also improved IRMA’s web presence and made the documentation more accessible. One of the main outcomes is the new IRMA website. This site complements the more technical website by the Privacy by Design Foundation and is targeted at end-users. Last but not least, we have set up this project blog that you are visiting right now.

The middle

In the second project phase, the IRMA made an easy team has focused on implementing the new wallet-based UX concept. We collaborated closely with the Privacy by Design Foundation and the team from Amsterdam who had proposed the wallet-idea. The collaboration resulted in a beta version of the new IRMA app and, ultimately, an official release of the new app.

The beta version was released on the 24th of April 2020 on Testflight for iOS and the Google Play store for Android. The code from the initial beta release is still available via GitHub.

The official new version of the IRMA app was released on June 3rd 2020, for iOS and on June 4th on Android, and the current release can be found on the App Store and the Google Play Store. In addition, all intermediate versions since the beta release can be found on GitHub.

Luckily, NLnet provided us with the opportunity to have the new IRMA app evaluated by the Radically Open Security team and by the Stichting Accessibility. We also got some feedback from a fellow NLnet project holder about the internationalisation of the app (thank you, Dwayne). To address these matters, the third project phase has focussed on accessibility, security and internationalisation.

The third project phase was concluded with a thorough expert review of the new IRMA app. This review revisits issues identified in the old app and evaluates to what extent these issues have been fixed in the new app. The conclusion is clear: the new IRMA app is a big step forward!

The end

During the final project phase, we addressed some of the most pressing remaining UX issues of IRMA. Concretely, we created a UX design proposal for the IRMA wizard feature. This feature helps users load all the cards they need into IRMA. We also created a UX design proposal for making it clearer who is requesting information from users. This feature is called pretty verifier names.

Furthermore, we took some time to make it easier for developers to incorporate IRMA in their projects. Just in time for a new law that requires online shops in NL to do age verification for alcoholics, we published a tutorial for web developers that illustrates how to put an age-check on a static website using IRMA. Of course, the tutorial can easily be followed and easily adapted for other IRMA use cases (e.g., asking for an email-address rather than doing an age-check).

Finally, we focused on helping the IRMA community continue with making IRMA easy – also after the completion of the IRMA made easy project. We organised a UX roadmap meeting with all interested stakeholders and developed suggestions for a UX roadmap.1

Looking forward

We have concluded the IRMA made easy project with a proposal for a UX roadmap that can guide future developments. The proposed UX roadmap focuses on problems and prioritises what UX aspects to focus on. The proposal has been shared with the IRMA development team at SIDN. It is meant to support the IRMA team with continuing the line of improvements and help keep UX issues on the agenda, even now that this specific project is over.

The proposed roadmap is based on user input, stakeholder input and expert input. Based on this input, we believe future UX development needs to primarily focus on (1) establishing user trust, (2) reducing complexity and (3) increasing consistency.

We are confident that the IRMA community will pick up the work and continue our efforts. IRMA and similar initiatives are becoming more and more relevant, e.g., with significant European developments such as the recent call for a European Digital Identity Wallet. With all the usability improvements made during the course of this project, we believe IRMA is an excellent example of how such a wallet can take form, both technically and in terms of user experience.

The IRMA made easy project has already achieved more than we could have hoped for: First and foremost, we have improved the IRMA app with respect to usability, accessibility, security and internationalisation. In addition, we have improved IRMA’s web presence and the documentation of the IRMA app. Finally, we have created a tutorial that helps developers get started and suggested a roadmap to guide future UX efforts. This success would not have been possible without the beautiful collaboration with the Privacy by Design Foundation, the Amsterdam team, the SIDN team, the contributions of the IRMA community and the hard work of all project members. We are sure the collaborations and bonds that we established during the project will stay in place and grow even stronger in the years to come. We want to thank the NLnet team for supporting us with making IRMA easy and are excited to see where IRMA is heading in the future.

  1. The stakeholder meeting was organised by IRMA made easy team members Laura Loenen and Jorrit Geels. As input for the meeting, they analysed and categorised user feedback from ten user tests and distilled usability issues. Most of these tests have been carried out by the municipality of Amsterdam in collaboration with other municipalities. In addition, the HAN university of applied sciences has contributed user test results. During the stakeholder meetings, stakeholders reviewed and prioritised the distilled issues, extended them with additional topics and brainstormed about possible solutions. We want to thank Anouschka Scholten and Mike Alders for helping with preparing and facilitating the meetings! ↩︎