Case Study - City of London Corporation

Creating a streamlined Alcohol Licence application process

The Challenge

City of London Corporation serves about 8000 residents and over 250,000 business within the square mile.

Identify an opportunity to improve one of the services they offer and make it available online, meet the new Local Digital Declaration and make use of the Government Digital Service Design System.

Main Tasks

1. User Research

2. SME Research

3. Develop ideas & concepts

4. Test concepts with users

5. Build a prototype

User Interviews


Interestingly the users we interviewed when asked if they had had any problems whilst applying, mostly said no in the first instance. 

Speaking with them further about their experiences, we uncovered that there had been a number of porblems experianced, one had mentioned that they had to make a number of follow up calls to chase things up.  another applicant had been threatened with a fine for having the incorrect combination of licences.

Key Questions

When you applied for this licence, how did you find out what kind of licence you needed?

Did the council provide clear information about how to apply for a licence?

Did you use the City of London website (or to apply?

How long did it take to get the licence from date of application?

Did you have any problems with getting a licence?

Affinity Mapping

The surprising learning was that customers had low expectations for the efficiency of the service and did not perceive the problems they faced in getting a licence to be out of the ordinary.


“I followed up with an email to Licensing team at City of London. Just to make sure everything's in order, and we haven't had any issues, or I haven't heard of any issues so far. ” - Operations Manager in London

“I think it was all online. Yeah, I think we scanned everything and sent it off online. ~ there was this gentleman who was helping us from the City of London he's very, very helpful. ” - Cafe Owner in London

Competitive Analysis 


The feedback on the prototype was overall positive, but with an app rather than a 8 page pdf form that the users had been using before, despite their being fewer sections, found that the application process seemed too long on the mobile version.

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© Alexander Miller 2021