Massachusetts (officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), is the most populous state in the New England region of the United States with 6.5 million people. Mass.gov, the Commonwealth's website, is a crucial tool for providing information and critical day-to-day social services to constituents from widely-varying socio-economic backgrounds and experiences.
Mass.gov and its ecosystem of web properties are the primary platforms for delivering government services and information in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The sheer scale of the platform can be understood through the 275+ government agencies that are supported by the it, the size of its user base—6.5 million people residing in the state, anyone who wants to move, visit, or do business in Massachusetts, and its contributors—over 400 content authors that add to the site and support the solution.
EOTSS (Executive Office of Technology Services and Security) engaged Velir to solve the challenge of creating a technology solution, governance model, and design framework that accommodates the priorities of these various groups, making this a complex and exciting project. Two core philosophies were central to the effort: 1) a constituent-focused approach and 2) data-driven design decision-making. These guiding principles formed the basis for all activities and deliverables throughout the effort.
"We worked closely with the Velir design team every step of the way. Whiteboard sessions at Velir’s space, design reviews at the EOTSS offices, sharing design files – we really functioned as a large, combined UX team."— harlan weber, director of design and service innovation, eotss digital services
The primary purpose for the Mass.gov redesign was to provide, as comprehensively as possible, a “single face of government” to site visitors. Key business goals included:
- Improving content findability, effectiveness of search, and navigation
- Building internal team engagement, trust, and ownership of the future-state Mass.gov
- Unifying multi-channel messaging (such as web and social) by aligning strategy, messaging, and tracking
- Creating a sustainable, flexible, rigorous, and scalable design/content framework to unify Mass.gov and all its sub-sites
- Creating a clear and enforceable Content Playbook that outlines content guidelines, workflows, and standards for content editors and developers
- Generating enthusiasm and buy-in around digital transformation within the Massachusetts government
- Contributing to positive public perception of Massachusetts, and to a perception of state government as seeking to directly engage with constituents
- Creating a methodology that prioritized user research in the drive toward digital transformation
We used stakeholder input, analytics, user testing, a town-hall style public forum, atomic design principles, the jobs-to-be done/taskonomy model, accessibility guidelines, and various front-end tools and techniques to create a modern, intuitive, consistent, and user-driven face of government for the state.
Velir helped EOTSS completely rethink the information architecture, design, and user journeys that get users to the content they need. We researched and tested solutions with real users until success was measurably achieved. We also provided guidance and rules on organizing and streamlining a content repository of more than 250,000 articles. In the end, Velir delivered a scalable design Pattern Library to form the foundation of future Mass.gov projects and keep them all cohesive.
In addition, by advocating and supporting a new iterative design thinking mentality, we enabled the EOTSS team to launch a pilot version of the new site. By doing so, the Commonwealth began collecting valuable user feedback significantly earlier than otherwise possible.