Every day, millions of people rely on government IT to access essential public services, yet government IT has a reputation for being antiquated, complex, and frustrating to use (think about the last time you filled out your FAFSA!). There is a critical need to change the way we design government IT. 18F is a federal government agency and a design consultancy that uses human centered design and agile methodologies to help other government agencies deliver better services. Through examples from projects I have worked on, I will talk about how 18F is transforming the culture of public service delivery and the challenges and opportunities specific to practicing human centered design in the public sector.
Melissa O. Braxton is a User Experience Designer for 18F, the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service, where she works to help make people’s interactions with government easier. She is also a PhD Candidate in the University of Washington’s (UW) Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE). She has worked as a UX Researcher and Designer for the University of Washington’s Center for Collaborative Systems for Security, Safety, and Regional Resilience (CoSSaR). At CoSSaR, she worked on technology innovation projects for federal government agencies including the Veteran’s Health Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Her current research focuses on understanding and managing the complexities of applying human centered approaches to design in the public sector.