GOV.UK Digital Registry & Mortgages: Understanding the Citizen Journey

Land Registry is a government department that operates as an executive agency and a trading fund for anyone buying or selling land or property, with all running costs covered by the fees paid by the users of their services. Anyone taking out a mortgage must apply to the government department to register unregistered land or property, which also includes any new owner of registered land or property or an interest affecting registered land or property, such as a mortgage, a lease or a right of way.

When considering each application, Land Registry decides whether and how it should be registered and once land or property is documented, Land Registry record any ownership changes, mortgages or leases that affect it.

Following a full review of all its services, Land Registry considered how systems might look if they started from scratch. How would they be designed today? This approach identified some potential areas of improvement including a Digital Register to make available to everyone a view of the Land Registry and also Digital Mortgage, a service allowing citizens to sign a mortgage deed online – speeding up the remortgage process for consumers, lenders and conveyancers.


The project followed the Government Digital Service (GDS) design methodology, and due to the extensive user research requirements, Keytree provided the necessary expertise, working collaboratively as part of a combined GDS, Land Registry and third party supplier team.

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Researching user needs

Land Registry asked Keytree to review existing processes and carry out research into how to make these potential improvements a reality. Keytree and Land Registry researchers met with internal stakeholders and Land Registry partners including brokers, lenders and conveyancing firms. Our user research team carried out multiple user groups and ‘pop-up’ research sessions in Peterborough and Nottingham and met with citizens at Croydon Land Registry offices.

The research highlighted the areas that cause most concern and confirmed valuable insights into the problems and annoyances faced – flagging up what was and wasn’t working for conveyancers, who were the primary user group. This information was used to create a comprehensive experience map, which enabled the Product Owner to make informed decisions about the content of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The project followed the Government Digital Service (GDS) design methodology, and due to the extensive user research requirements, Keytree provided the necessary expertise, working collaboratively as part of a combined GDS, Land Registry and third party supplier team.

Offering a digital option – the Digital Registry & Mortgage

The project started as an idea but with no appreciation of a user’s journey, problems or needs but was soon in a position where the whole team understood what went into a re-mortgage application – highlighting where the opportunities were for improvement and what was most important to fix first. The vast majority of the detailed design for the Digital Registry and Mortgage solutions was complete and ready for implementation once the technical debt was cleared.

Keytree researchers set up Google Analytics to monitor user behaviour, so relevant customer insights can be extracted, which will offer suggestions for future improvements to the Digital Register making systems accessible to the public, Land Registry partners and banks. Ongoing research will provide new surveys highlighting the level of engagement with stakeholders involved in customer support and this will help to refine user needs, user journeys and personas.