VA websites benefit from continuous improvements

VA is constantly refining its websites.

“There really isn’t a day when we say it’s done, where we’re going to celebrate, leave and move on,” said Samara Strauss, a digital services expert who works for the VA digital team. responsible for maintaining and updating the VA website. “It really is a constant work in progress. Things like having an online health care app or the online disability claims tool — those were things a few years ago that were just a dream and now it’s a reality . Now veterans use these tools every day. »

The VA.gov website allows veterans to apply for, track, and manage their VA health care and benefits. Veterans can apply for health care, disability compensation, VA-backed veterans’ home loans, veteran ID cards, education benefits, and other benefits online; track certain applications throughout their life cycle; and manage existing benefits and personal information from the website.

Tasks that previously took months on paper and by mail — such as filing a disability claim — are now seeing reduced timelines because they can be completed online through VA.gov.

“In terms of how we work,” Strauss continued, “we launch something, track it to see how and if veterans are using it and find it useful (or not), and figure out how we can improve it. over time. Our goal is to ensure that veterans can manage everything completely online. »

How does VA know what veterans want on the VA website?

The VA.gov team uses human-centered design principles and regularly engages with veterans. All projects start with teams talking with veterans to validate their needs, and website updates are tested by veterans before launch to assess how things could be improved.

VA.gov also reviews website analytics, which show how the veteran community uses the website, to determine how to prioritize information so that the most commonly used functions are easily accessible. For example, the main VA.gov homepage displays the top 20 tasks performed by approximately 80% of website visitors.

For information not listed on the home page, veterans can use the site’s search function to find information, and they will soon be able to use a new virtual agent (chat) feature that VA is preparing to roll out. at national scale. For those who prefer a mobile experience, VA.gov is mobile friendly and the VA.gov team recently launched a new VA mobile app. And for people who may use assistive technology, all VA.gov products aim to meet all Section 508 and accessibility standards.

How can a veteran suggest an improvement?

If you are a veteran with a suggestion for a feature or ways to improve the website, go to VA.gov, select Contact Us, scroll down, and select Feedback. (The Feedback button is only for making constructive suggestions about the website. If you have any questions or requests regarding your benefits or health care, this other Contact The Us page tells you how to contact these types of questions.)

Tell us about your experience – what you need, what you can’t find and what can be improved. Our goal is to make products that veterans love to use, and with your feedback, we can make that happen.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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