Moving your mail: A case study on the design of the official Mail Forwarding and Change of Address Order for the US Post Office
The US Post Office approached the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon to look at their Change of Address form. Since the School was working on designing manuals for the Postal Service, the Deputy Post Master charged us to "come up with some new ideas and thinking" for this form. In the scheme of work, it was wide open but considered a small project.
The existing form was small and crowded with text. The Post Office had just initiated an on-line change of address form and was considering having another version that could be accomplished by telephone. They wanted an improved version of the hard copy.
The project lasted almost two years. On the new form we were able to generate a host of alternative ideas, all with more significant improvements:
1. Embedded instructions for each task located horizontally at the data entry points.
2. Creating two different pathways for entering the form, one for a solo individual and/or for a family, while the second entry point was for business moves.
The final prototypes were tested by the Gallup Organization in: Cleveland, Washington D.C. and New York. We wrote the interviewer protocol for a solo individual to complete the form and then respond to questions, as well as providing their impressions and experience with the form. Our design team and the two team leads from the Post Office viewed the testing behind one-way mirrors.
The testing was extremely successful. We were happy with the results and we will share the user testing conclusions and their benefits to this project. It is an excellent case for understanding the value of this form testing protocol.
This form is the second highest volume form used in the United States, second only to our 1040 Income Tax form. Over forty four million forms are completed yearly and the database for those who have moved has over 160 million names that are dropped after three years.