U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Case Study

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Careers Web Site

The challenges laid out in the project brief for this site included differentiated messaging to six separate audience groups (physicians, nurses, and administrators, among them) with hiring opportunities spread throughout the country.

Correcting preconceptions many candidates have about working for the VA was an integral objective.

Solutions included audience self-categorization and a searchable map with current openings.

About the color red?

That was an unexpected usability test finding. The original design direction was based on a red, white and blue color palette with red featured prominently in the home page hero graphic.

Although patriotic, it turns out that red has very specific connotations in the medical community which the design team had not anticipated. As one test subject noted, “In the medical profession, red is considered a bad thing. Blood, alarming.”

By testing a design prototype, we were able to correct the color palette ahead of development and create a site that has won several awards:

  • Gold W3 Award
  • Gold Aster Award in Healthcare Advertising
  • Communicator Awards Award of Excellence

Tasks & Deliverables

  • Content audit
  • Personas
  • Site map
  • Wireframes
  • Usability testing

Similar Projects & Clients

  • U.S. Department of State
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Cayman Island Dept of Tourism
  • City of Newport

UX Timeline & Work Samples

Briefed-In by Agency

Remote meetings and document downloads to gain familiarity with client, site audiences, and project goals. VA is a long-term agency client so the UX discovery phase was condensed to briefings by agency employees who are SMEs in field.

Content Audit

Mapped-out existing site and analyzed content, features, modules and functionality at page level. Deliverable presented as spreadsheet.

View Audit


Integrated list of core site objectives with extensive client-supplied audience research to develop a set of 11 content goals for the web site. A half-dozen personas were drafted to illustrate how key audience archetypes would be motivated and engage with the new VA careers web site. Drafted matrix referencing personas with content goals.

View Personas

Site Map

Created site map and iterated through two agency and client feedback cycles. Unusual for a careers web site, navigation was stand-alone rather than developed to fit within the navigation structure of the parent organization.

View Site Map


Developed desktop wireframes with functionality that included prominent job search (always critical on a careers web site), interactive map showing current openings, and modular content blocks to support modern CMS and development best practices.

View Wireframes

Usability Testing

Developed usability test plan – grounded in persona research and content goals. Drafted demographic guidelines for test participant recruiting firm. Performed usability testing on staging site following design and early build cycle. Wrote report summarizing findings and recommendations.

View Findings