🔐 Building login.gov, one account for government

Overview

Senior Researcher & Designer on a team of 25. My team built login.gov, U.S. public’s one account for government, from concept to launch to scaling it further. It's now used by 30M people to access 200 services spanning more than 30 federal and state government agencies. A career highlight!

Challenge

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and state government agencies fund and build bespoke login systems for their digital services, which quickly become outdated and cumbersome to maintain and use.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

Outcomes

Login.gov was built from the ground up and launched in 2017 adhering to the highest standards of security, privacy and user experience.

It helps users to easily log into multiple government digital services, including authentication and identity verification.

It reduces cognitive burden and improves overall experience for users when interacting with government services online, and lowers costs and level of effort that government agencies and staff can put towards their core services.

It's now used by 30M people to access 200 services spanning more than 30 federal and state government agencies, including 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

My tenure on the team was from 2016 to 2018. I led the majority of the research and interaction design and built 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. Teammates left or joined as 18F's needs on other projects adjusted.

Since 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.

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