Using human-centered design as a foundation for CX measurements


Designer, Design Team Lead, Product Owner


Service Design, Generative & Evaluative Research, Data Science, Stakeholder Management, Product Development


  • Use HCD to create and deploy CX measurements to improve the veteran’s experience 
  • Develop working framework for the virtuous cycle of continuous improvement using HCD and data science
  • Manage a complex design portfolio and a large design team


Veterans do not see three different VA administrations. They just see one VA.

Sea of disjointed surveys in different systems means there is very little actionable data

But all three administrations were employing their own surveys totaling to over 143 separate lengthy tools. The incoming feedback became a sea of disjointed and unhelpful data unable to yield timely actionable insights.


  • Use design-led generative research to understand the veteran’s journey with VA benefits and services across 40 lines of business
  • Employ cognitive testing to evaluate comprehension of survey instruments by veterans
  • Design reporting dashboards using existing CX platform modules based on needs of the line of business team requirements
  • Work with a multi-disciplinary team of statisticians, data analysts, data scientists, product managers, and software developers to reach milestones
  • Collaborate closely with VA stakeholders from front-line to executive-level staff to ensure successful deployment while maintaining the veterans’ voice throughout the decision-making process

This is a project that grew from two designers in a team of 10 to over 15 designers in a team of 50. Our design work touched all of the VA which is the 2nd largest federal agency in the United States. The work that has been completed and is still on-going remains the model for other federal agencies in standing up their own customer experience programs.

Each project for a line of business began with understanding the veteran’s experience for that particular service. Below is a sample journey map of the education service journey for a veteran to receive G.I. Bill benefits. Moments that matter most to veterans are highlighted at the bottom. We used these to develop surveys that mapped back to those specific moments.

Once measurements were created, I worked closely with statisticians and data scientists to ensure the sample design is rigorous and provided a representative data. As the product owner, I also collaborated with the software development team responsible for building Veteran Signals, the VA’s CX platform. Since each survey is a custom instrument with a specific dashboard, my team and I worked continuously with the dev team to ensure backlog prioritization and quality control on design and content specs.

Sketches of dashboard wireframes for Veteran Signals

The HCD model I helped develop with our design team, data scientists, and VA stakeholders enabled CX measurements to be timely pushed and afterwards, pull back actionable insights for each specific line of business.


We built a continuous monitoring, analysis, and improvement model that centers feedback to the core delivery of services and products to veterans. This model is built on top of the foundation of human-centered design and enables data scientists to understand the context of the data which in turn using big data, help designers pinpoint where in the journey veterans are experiencing the most friction. This virtuous cycle of improving the veteran’s experience continuously enables high levels of trust and customer satisfaction.

Each line of business across all 3 VA administrations (Veterans Benefit Administration, Veterans Health Administration, and National Cemetery Administration) will have their own custom CX survey tool to measure veteran sentiment that is also aggregated to overall veteran sentiment for the VA.

The federal CX measurement framework we created at VEO gained national recognition:

  • President’s Management Agenda: Improving Customer Experience with federal services: Federal agencies will provide a modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience across Government, comparable to leading private-sector organizations. Federal Team leading this goal: Veteran Affairs and OMB.
  • OMB Circular A-11: Instructs federal agencies to begin identifying how they will address CX requirements laid out in the President’s Management Agenda by modeling their framework after VEO’s.
  • SECVA Memorandum on VA’s CX Policy: To enable VA’s goal of improving customer experience within federal services, VEO was designated as VA’s authoritative organization in customer experience. The memo also linked VA staff performance metrics and budget strategy to VEO’s CX measurements.
  • Forrester Customer Experience Rankings: In May 2018, the VEO was recognized as the number 4 Federal agency on Forrester’s customer experience index based on 47 different CX drivers.
  • Veteran Signals selected for the 2019 FedHealthIT Innovation Award