The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is an innovative and progressive organization that annually processes over one million vehicle registrations and serves over 500,000 licensed drivers at branch offices across North Dakota.
The NDDOT received a grant in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a form of technology that would encourage North Dakotans to make greater use of online services. They partnered with our team at Prominent to create a mobile app that would allow customers to safely and easily renew Driver's License/Motor Vehicle registration and to perform various other activities from the convenience of their mobile device.
How Custom Software Allowed Us to Deliver a Successful Mobile App
Prominent was able to navigate and overcome a variety of challenges within this project by using custom software.
First and foremost, the timeline for this app was extremely tight. Depending on its complexity, a custom mobile application can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year to develop. We only had three months to deliver an app with complex integration that would function on both iOS and Android devices. That doesn’t sound so bad until you grasp that this application would not only need to be developed in three months, but also quality assurance tested, user acceptance tested, released in Apple’s app store and Google’s play store, get approval from the levels of oversight involved in projects at the State of North Dakota, and invoiced. All of this left us with about two months of development.
This timeline required innovation. We presented the state with an idea to write the code in a framework called Xamarin. This would enable us to successfully complete the project within the tight deadline. Not every mobile application lends itself to the use of a framework like Xamarin, but ND Drive was a perfect fit. Part of the challenge of custom development is knowing which technologies are the best fit for a given problem set. In this instance, using this framework enabled us to write the iOS and Android apps with a single codebase, instead of writing code from the ground up for each one, saving us time and our client money.
The app supports more than 15 different services, all of which need to connect with different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Weeks into the project, it was discovered that some of the APIs were in a different format than expected.
While anticipating all of the APIs to be REST APIs, we needed to integrate with several SOAP APIs as well — an integration format that requires a strict set of standards, unlike its counterpart that is a more efficient alternative. Despite this roadblock, we were able to adapt and leverage all of the required APIs for both Android and iOS.
Most of the challenges we faced would not have been overcome without creating custom software for the NDDOT. Being able to apply the best technology framework was huge in the development of this and allowed us to remain fluid in the process when obstacles arose.
Our team successfully executed this project utilizing code written in C# in Xamarin. A variety of roles were involved, including the following:
- Lead Developer
- UI/UX Designer
- Project Manager
- Business Analyst
- Quality Assurance
Why it Worked
Not only were we successful in developing a cross-platform application within the NDDOT’s timeline and budget, but we paid close attention to the user experience of the app to ensure it was intuitive and easy to navigate for the citizens of North Dakota.
The NDDOT had asked for the mobile app to have the same look, feel and workflow of their current website so customers would be familiar with the functionality regardless if they were on their computer or their phone. Though constrained by a pre-existing design, however, instead of simply copying the website, we challenged ourselves to be creative with how the app transitioned from screen to screen so it had an intuitive user experience on mobile while still aligning with the website.
As a team, we collaborated seamlessly with one another and with the NDDOT business and IT teams to make this project a success. Communication was paramount, and everyone worked tirelessly through state protocols to ensure the deadline was met and that we developed an exceptional application to assist the NDDOT.