The Department of Veterans Affairs is one of Vertical's largest clients, and one of their larger projects is a series of apps geared towards veterans and others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The focus of these apps ranges from reducing negative behaviors and avoiding triggers, to enabling positive habits and making sure that help is available from both person and professional contacts.
Information architecture is critically important. Even for a relatively straightforward app like this, which easily contains more than 100 unique screens. Making sure that the IA is clear right from the beginning makes it much simpler to translate to development. Above are just a few samples of the IA represented for the project.
In addition to creating the detailed navigation information architecture, part of my job was to create representative wireframes that capture the essence of how the app should look. The mockups above represent a small number of the screens that were created for the project.
Because of the nature of the VA, it was our utmost concern that the apps we develop meet requirements for accessibility (508 standards), as well as create and maintain a consistent look and feel between apps feel that is both contemporary and usable for a wide range of users.
We work very closely with the VA and their numerous subject matter experts in a variety of fields. In addition to working with detailed requirements documents to guarantee standardization as well as periodic meetings with key members of the team, we made sure that we were always in compliance with 508 standards, and on track with our deliverables.
Individual contribution and takeaways
My role on the project was mapping out the information architecture from very large requirements documents, creating a series of wireframes that capture the general idea of what screens will look like, and maintaining consistency with other apps in the suite in order to pass to development. During this project I gained valuable skill as a wireframer, and working with an app of this size has given me great insight into how important even small details are when creating a large-scale information architecture.
I also learned just how critical it was to make sure that every voice in a multi-disciplinary team was being heard. While the team I worked on was almost exclusively designers and developers, a lot of the stakeholders from the VA were not, and it was challenging but worthwhile to make sure that everyone's input was heard in support of creating usable, accessible applications for people with PTSD.