🔐 Building login.gov, one account for government


From 2016 to 2018, I led research and interaction design for login.gov, U.S. public’s one account for government. My team built it from concept to launch. It's used by 40M+ people using services from 40+ federal & state government agencies. A career highlight!


Federal and state government agencies fund and build bespoke login systems for their digital services, which quickly become outdated and cumbersome to maintain and use.

The U.S. public has an inconsistent, redundant and unreliable experience when simply logging in to government websites when their goal is to understand and receive critical government services. 

It's difficult to create one service that meets the needs of residents of a country as diverse and large as the U.S. There were multiple failed attempts at creating one account for government — including MyUSA and Connect.gov. Additionally, the Obama administration issued an executive memo to government agencies encouraging the use of shared services (vs bespoke ones). Login.gov is a result of that call to action and was launched in 2017 adhering to the highest standards of security, privacy and user experience.


For people who use government services online — it makes it easy to log into multiple government digital services using one service vs multiple, reduces cognitive burden and improves overall experience when interacting with the government.

For government agencies — it lowers costs and level of effort that staff can put towards their core services.

Adoption — It's now used by 40M people to access 200 services spanning more than 40 federal and state government agencies, including Social Security Administration, Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy and Transportation. 

In government, one tends to see the impact of their work several years later. In 2021, 4 years after I left the team, login.gov was able to start providing its services to state governments, which was met with much excitement. Additionally, President Biden's American Rescue Plan awarded login.gov $187M in Technology Modernization Fund funds to further deepen its user experience and expand its reach to more government agencies and vulnerable populations.

The TMF funding will serve three purposes. First, it will increase cybersecurity identification and protection for current and future users. Second, it will add equitable identity verification and in-person options for vulnerable populations. Third, it will grow the login.gov environment by reducing the barrier to entry for agencies to allow for login.gov to increase usage to a higher percentage of citizen participation. The operational benefits of this project include increasing identity verification services, reducing fraud, expanding access to digital services for millions of citizens, and reducing government-wide costs at scale.

Project environment & my role

I led the majority of discovery & evaluative research and interaction design to build the user experience from the ground up, including: 

  • Product, research and design strategy
  • Qualitative research, usability testing, comparative analysis, academic and desk research
  • Service design, prototyping, information architecture, user flows, high fidelity design
  • Collaboration with engineering, product and government stakeholders to drive decisions

A joint project between 18F and United States Digital Service (USDS), the team included 3 multi-disciplinary designers (content, research, design), 2 product managers, 15 engineers and 2 folks focused on business development and partnerships with government agencies. The team reduced and expanded as 18F's needs on other projects adjusted.

Since I left the project in 2018, the team has been resourced more significantly and continues to build a fully featured and flexible authentication and identity verification application. 

While I absolutely expect the product to be transformed over time, I'm proud that the core user experience still remains as I designed it. Conducting rigorous research to regularly validate user comprehension, comfort and capability ensured that the foundational content, user flows and implementation details were sound.