I started working at CGI in the spring of 2017. I was looking for a chance to take my newfound love of user experience research and development to the next level. It turns out that CGI had a dedicated team of UX professionals who worked exclusively on CGI products across the organization.
I was originally stationed at the CGI Federal offices in Fairfax, VA, where I worked on a variety of projects for Government agencies including the EPA and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. After a while, I transitioned to a team that worked solely on Momentum, a large, long-standing contract/finance management product that is used at many federal agencies for the purposes of accounting and bookkeeping. After a year in federal, I moved on to the Enterprise division and began working with several State government and private industry products.
Now, the tricky part…
A lot of what I worked on was governed by very strict non-disclosure policies. I can’t really share a lot of what I worked on without a ton of redaction. So how do you talk about what you did and how you helped when you can’t show it to your audience? I’ll do my best with the examples I have and some helpful illustrations by me.
User Research for EPA
My co-designer and I conducted several user feedback sessions with EPA employees and private industry system users across the country. In these user sessions, we demonstrated our proposed user interface update and took users through several guided tests. We would assess the ease or difficulty of use on a four-point scale: 0 meant no “friction” or user difficulty; 3 meant the user failed the task completely. As in golf, the lower the score, the better. Our tests were well-received by the client and the sub-contractors who oversaw development.
- I created mock-ups and clickable prototypes for the project
- I discussed possible roadblocks with the development team and how best to address them within the tech stack we had
- I helped steer the adoption of user interface elements based on the pattern library we implemented for ongoing federal projects
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
The GLRI is a government initiative that aims at cleaning and preserving the Great Lakes…which should be obvious from the name. My job was giving feedback and guidance on content curation.
Momentum is a product I worked on for about a year when I was in the federal design group. To make a long story short, Momentum is the accounting software that government agencies use to account for the taxpayer dollars they spend. It’s been around since the late 80s and it’s considered best of breed, but change in a project this large and this storied takes plenty of time and patience.
The animated GIF (above) shows some of the work I did on an in-app messaging system. I chose to show this as a GIF to highlight the sort of minor adjustments that happen over many, many, many, many, many phone calls with developers, product owners, and government stakeholders. It seems simple, but every change is the result of lots of discussion.
Some additional highlights:
- I and the other UX designers identified duplicate/conflicting styles inside the system and streamlined them into a functional UI Pattern Library.
- We conducted several user feedback sessions and workshops to help improve areas and aspects of the application.
- We fought for the implementation of new tech frameworks and widgets that would improve the user experience and move the product forward.
What I’m working on now
Now that I’m out of the federal space and in the state-level government design space, I’m working on a child welfare product that streamlines information collected by social workers. I wrote about the experience on my design blog.
What I Learned
- Axure 8 and 9
- How to deal with Ensemble
- User experience fundamentals and best practices
- How to run a government-focused workshop that gets results
- Which truck stops have the best food and restrooms (It’s Love’s, in my opinion)