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Veterans Affairs

Strategizing a better mobile user experience for Vets

Summary

The Veterans Affairs (VA) wanted to explore options for improving the mobile user experience of the new VA.gov. We gave them a proposed mobile product strategy based on a combination of our own expertise and extensive research.

Illustration of a Veteran using a VA flagship mobile app.

The challenge

Many organizations are now beginning to deliver mobile experiences through what's called a "flagship" mobile app. The purpose of a flagship mobile app is to consolidate multiple use cases from multiple user personas into one premiere mobile app. In other words, it's either the only or the default mobile app for a brand.

Recognizing this trend, the VA realized there might be an opportunity to further improve the mobile experience of VA.gov by offering a flagship mobile app. They sought guidance on how best to employ a unified, multi-channel, cross-platform approach for delivering the most common services used by Veterans.

The solution

To address this challenge, we augmented on own expertise on mobile app delivery with extensive design and technical research. This research process involved:

  • Performing a comparative analysis of flagship mobile apps across VA-like industries to understand the landscape of options available to users, as well as common patterns and solutions
  • Conducting a technical teardown of flagship mobile apps across VA-like industries to understand the technical approaches used by other organizations when creating flagship mobile apps
  • Interviewing several organizations to gain insight into how they've approached creating their flagship mobile apps
  • Interviewing Veterans to understand what their mobile experience needs are
  • Identifying the latest trends in mobile app development
  • Analyzing and synthesizing our research data into a comprehensive report that detailed our methodology, findings, and recommendations for what the VA.gov's mobile product strategy should be going forward

Our report also provided the VA with a definition of a minimum viable product (MVP) for their own flagship mobile app, a decision framework to guide choices among mobile app development options (such as mobile web, progressive web application, hybrid, cross-platform native, or native), and a flexible mobile architecture approach based on pattern we call a "thin client, thick API architecture."

The results

  • Delivered the project under the federal procurement micropurchase threshold of $10,000
  • Performed a comparative analysis of 17 flagship mobile apps, including Bank of America, USAA, Capital One, Mayo Clinic, Zocdoc, FollowMyHealth, and more
  • Defined an MVP roadmap that included nearly 30 key user actions or features (e.g., biometric login, prescription refill, and claims status) and which of these should be delivered natively or via the mobile web
  • Published the report in the open and with no copyright, making it free to anyone who wants to learn from and reuse the content