Research into digital authorization in collaboration with Fontys Hogeschool


In our current society, many transactions take place digitally. Between people. Between persons and organizations / companies and between organizations and companies themselves.

In most cases, transactions will simply be executed by two parties. But there are also situations where a digital transaction must be carried out on behalf of someone else.
Consider, for example, a situation where a child of a parent with dementia wants to report a move of the parent online to a municipality. In this situation, you want the child to be authorized to make this transaction on behalf of the parent.

As an implementer of social legislation, the SVB pays out 45 billion euros annually to 5.5 million customers. 62% from our customers receive AOW from us. The AOWs are a basic pension for people with the AOW age of 67 and older.

The AOW target group will grow in the coming years and at the same time also become more digitally skilled. This means that when this target group can no longer do the administration itself, other people must be able to take over. For this it is necessary that you can authorize someone digitally.
Within the government, a lot of research has already been done from a legal and technological perspective into digital authorization. As an innovation lab of the SVB, Novum wants to gain insight into the user perspective of digital authorization in order to be prepared for the future.

The assignment

For this project, Novum collaborated with a team of students from the Digital Experience Design course at Fontys University of Applied Sciences. They were commissioned to use a Human-centered design approach to develop a prototype with which a pensioner can authorize someone to arrange online affairs with the government on his or her behalf. It had to be a digital solution and the focus was on the design of the solution and not the underlying technology.

The Approach and Results

The students followed a Design Thinking approach and delivered different results per stat.


During the empathize phase, the students interviewed 12 people from the target group and sent a questionnaire and received 13 responses. The main insights from this research were:

  • People know what digital authorization is, but do not know how to do it. For example, they are not aware of the existence of
  • Often people “authorize” each other by giving the DigiD password. This was already known in advance, but it provides an important insight that the solution must be able to compete with the provision of a password.
    “It needs to be grandma proof”.
  • The respondents are not really concerned with authorizing them and only start working on it when it becomes necessary.


Based on the insights from the interviews and the questionnaire, the team made the following point of view. A point of view is a concise summary of the problem to be solved, described from the end user's perspective.

“Older people who don't know how to empower someone need an easy and accessible way to empower someone. Because if this is not there, it will not, not correctly or not on time. ”


Using the point of view, the team held several brainstorms in which different solutions were sought. Ultimately, it was decided to further develop two solutions from the brainstorm into a prototype. A step interface where a user is guided step by step through the process. And a conversational interface people can jointly reach an authorization in a chat conversation.

Prototype and test

The team developed two concepts into prototypes and tested them with the target group. Based on the feedback, the prototypes were adapted and improved.

The step interface

voorbeeld van beeldscherm

The step interface is a concept in which the user is guided through the authorization process in small steps. In the first version of this prototype, the user was first extensively informed. Tests showed that the user was not waiting for a lot of information in advance, but mainly wanted to get started with arranging the authorization. That is why it was decided to provide more information in the process instead of beforehand.

Insights step interface

  • Users found it easy to use and felt confident.
  • They had faith in the system. This was mainly improved by applying the government house style in the interface.
  • Fine print is inconvenient for the target audience.
  • Negative feedback was that it felt rather impersonal, respondents missed the human aspect.

The Conversational UI interface

In this prototype, an authorization is established by means of a chat conversation with the person giving the authorization, the person receiving the authorization and a coach. In the first prototypes, the students used whatsapp to find out exactly how the conversation should proceed and then elaborate this in a design of a responsive web app.

Insights Conversational UI interface

  • Users found it easy because it is very similar to whatsapp.
  • The idea that a person helps in the process was experienced very positively
  • A chat provides a collaborative and more personal process. The giver and recipient of the authorization go through the lake together. There is a cut in a step interface.


Both concepts require even more research and elaboration. Novum has chosen to collaborate with Program People Central and a new team of students from Fontys University of Applied Sciences to conduct further research into the conversational user interface. An important issue here is whether the work of the coach could be partially taken over by a robot. Another issue is the level of detail at which users want to give authorization.

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