Investigating the Social Service Beneficiary User Experience

The nature of this project is confidential. A brief summary is provided below. I acted as design researcher and strategist within a team of five.




A state client requested user-centered design services to enhance the experience of applying for public benefits including a comprehensive public resource search tool. Our objective was to conduct both generative and evaluative research to 1) identify problem areas within the user journey and generate new concepts to improve service delivery and the self-service portal and 2) test the usability of mobile self-service portal prototype. The field team collaborated with Deloitte branding and digital transformation teams to inform recommendations to launch a new mobile self-service portal.

Generative Research: We utilized a mixed-method approach including ethnography, in-depth interviews, and participant observation. We investigated each phase of the benefits journey including the triggering life event, search for resources, eligibility determination and application, documentation, approval, and the maintenance and recertification process. The research team interviewed 44 users including public citizens, community partners, and state workers at six locations across the state.

Evaluative Research: We conducted a series of on site usability studies including cognitive walkthroughs, in-depth interviews, and group interviews. We sought to broaden our understanding of what residents and community partners need to easily apply for benefits, identify key moments in the journey and pain points associated with eligibility, applying, and the management of benefits, tested clickable prototype to uncover key drivers in the journey for drop-out points. The research team engaged 51 participants across 7 locations within the state.

  • Fiver user personas

  • End-to-end benefits journey illustrating the user interactions, emotions, and experiences

  • Journey map gave insight into ten challenge areas faced by the personas within the process

  • 50 new concepts for Marketing & Branding, Service Delivery, and Benefits Management

  • Usability study results and 10 opportunities for enhancement target to five user personas