Re-published from Medium.com
Meet Joanne — she’s a young Army Veteran who is looking to make use of her GI Bill Benefits and apply for federal student loans to attend college.
As she tries to access federal programs which will allow her to afford college, Joanne navigates multiple agency websites. She finds dozens; they all seem relevant to what she’s looking for.
Naturally, Joanne is confused. Are these programs related to each other? Are they even all a part of the federal government? Are any of these a scam? When she tries to access the sites during her morning commute, she finds half of them are impossible to use on her phone. She’s overwhelmed by how hard these tools are to use; she feels frustrated and isolated, and worries she might miss opportunities she’s eligible for.
We know that Joanne is not alone. When people go online to access government services, they’re often met with confusing navigation systems, visual brands, and inconsistent interaction patterns. While dedicated federal workers are striving to build helpful digital tools for people like Joanne, our work is still happening in silos, under unique brands and programs.
What this means for users
As a result, we spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel and recreating common patterns such as buttons, forms, and search bars over and over again. This creates poor user experiences and wastes American taxpayer dollars in solving the same problems, again and again.
While some federal agencies have created design patterns and UI toolkits to build unity within their own digital brand (see Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), andHealthcare.gov), we know that this is a time-intensive endeavor and not all agencies have the resources to support it.
To best serve our users like Joanna, we knew that we needed to set a new bar for simplicity and consistency across government services, not just within a given agency or program.
So we asked ourselves: is it possible to create a shared set of tools to provide consistent, beautiful, and easy-to-use government websites?