VA.gov website screenshot

VA tackles user experience

As part of its modernization strategy, the Department of Veterans wants to revamp some of its websites to provide an engaging user experience that better addresses the needs of veterans. The VA's Web Brand Consolidation Working Group is looking to improve four websites -- va.gov, vets.gov, myhealth.va.gov and explore.va.gov.

In its initial investigations, the working group found veterans were unable to find the tools and services they need online and were confused by the disjointed navigation between sites.  In addition, the group determined that the VA’s websites were designed for administrators rather than veterans, and that cross-administration governance of the sites is overly complicated.

To address this problem, the VA is building a new "veteran-first experience" for its sites that includes an updated global header, footer and navigation, new benefit "hub pages" and new landing pages for many of the top VA services. All of these pages will be served from the Amazon Web Services GovCloud used across the enterprise.

In a solicitation issued on Aug. 15, the VA is asking for help implementing a content management system in the VA’s cloud to power those sites.  No particular CMS is specified, and the solicitation makes clear that "research or comparative analysis of CMS technologies" will not be part of the contract and that the winning vendor "must be prepared to begin work on their proposed CMS solution at contract initiation."

The department also wants help with writing new content, migrating content to the CMS, search engine optimization, improved search and analytics to monitor and analyze website performance.

Responses are due Aug. 22.

Meanwhile, the Veterans Health Administration is looking for a mobile app for its Whole Health System, a host of resources that support veterans' efforts to manage their health care and achieve their personal health goals.

VHA wants a user-friendly app that can be used on mobile and desktop devices. It should use branching questions to identify users' preferences, give them customized recommendations and guidance based on their responses and provide reminders, prompts, recognition and feedback to user data and input.

The app is expected to be standalone without the capability to interface with the electronic health record, but it should be developed to allow for future integrations with the EHR for data exchange.

The full solicitation can be found here. Responses are due on Aug. 24.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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