Research-based prototyping to design for real user needs


Department of Veterans' Affairs


UX Design
Digital Prototyping and Usability Testing



DVA’s Veterans’ Employment Program (VEP) assists Australian veterans to find appropriate and rewarding work after they transition out of the Australian Defence Force. It also assists the private sector to find skilled recruits from the veteran population. The VEP were looking to refine and expand their digital services after a highly successful 2018 Employment Awards event. The existing VEP website was not developed in consultation with users or in line with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard. The program services being planned also required a robust platform with the capacity to be rapidly updated; this need was not being met on the existing website.

Pragma was engaged to refine the VEP’s service offering and bring the digital services in line with the Digital Service Standard. Pragma developed and conducted user research to inform the design of the VEP’s website and digital services. We established a multi-disciplinary team which included the VEP team members, and instituted agile ways of working, in line with the Digital Service Standard.
Pragma conducted rapid prototype development and testing in accordance with the DSS alpha stage requirements, in order to transform the VEP website from an informational resource website into a platform for delivering digital services to Australian veterans and employers.
The success of this project has been proven through the effective use of user research and usability testing that has informed the development of alpha stage prototypes.

On the back of a highly successful and high profile 2018 Veterans’ Employment Awards, DVA needed to develop the digital services of its Veterans’ Employment Program. The existing VEP website had been created as a placeholder while the 2018 Veterans’ Employment Awards were being held; it offered little user-centred information or services. Broad-based user research had been conducted, but the existing VEP website had not been tested with real users, so the VEP team had identified that the website would have to be re-built in line with the Digital Service Standard.

The VEP team also identified that in this process, opportunities existed to develop new digital services in response to user research. These would supplement the services already on offer: the Awards, the Veterans’ Employment Commitment and the Industry Advisory Committee.
Furthermore, the current VEP digital presence constitutes an informational website, with limited ability to rapidly iterate service delivery (constrained by shared service release and testing cycles) which create high risk and costly changes where transactional services are implemented. This limits the ability of VEP to work in line with the Digital Service Standard, which requires regular product testing and user research to enable effective, iterative development.
As a starting point, Pragma assessed the value and depth of previous user research conducted on VEP’s customer-base. Pragma then undertook further user research across a variety of user segments to address identified gaps, and to ensure that the VEP service design achieved outcomes that met the needs and expectations of users.
In order to work in line with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard, Pragma developed the VEP digital service to an ‘Alpha stage’ prototype, validating those prototypes with further user testing and product testing. These prototypes were low-fidelity websites with high-fidelity content, concepts and design, developed in order to glean useful user insights into whether the digital services met their needs.
Pragma also worked in line with the DSS Alpha assessment requirements: understanding user needs, establishing a multi-disciplinary team, and working in an agile way.
Based on thorough user research and considered design, Pragma developed Alpha stage prototypes in line with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard that met real user needs. This included improved design of existing services and new service designs in response to user testing.
As a result of Pragma’s work, the VEP service passed their Alpha assessment and the team are set up to provide valuable digital services to Australian veterans and the private sector, through Beta.

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