WEB3.0 Is It Over?

WEB3.0 Is It Over? 

This month’s Community of Practice will focus on web3 and feature a debate on the promises of web3.  Will it revolutionize the web? Is Bitcoin the best use case for blockchain technology? Or is it merely a niche feature for rich people who want to pay millions for digital assets?

Join us on Thursday, July 28, for WEB3.0 Is It Over? Moderated by Content Director Stephanie Warren from Somo Global, a digital product agency, this debate promises to help you understand why some say it could revolutionize the web.  And why others disagree.

Through this debate you will learn: 

  • The key components of web3
  • The Barriers to mass adoption
  • The implications for health care


Since her early days at America Online, Stephanie has always had a passion for the user experience. As a pioneer in eCommerce, she learned quickly how users adapt to new tech and leverage it to better their lives - when they see a benefit. She currently directs all content efforts at Somo and is convinced the next big this is just around the corner.

The presentation slides and recording will be available following the session on Confluence. 


When: Thursday, July 28, 1 PM ET

Where: Zoom, meeting ID 813 1725 3712, pass 050855


This month’s Community of Practice will dive into the CMS Design System. We will discuss how the design system has evolved to meet the needs of CMS, the design system as of three years ago and the updates made; along with challenges up to today and plans for the future. Scott’s presentation is a companion piece to his article in the most recent edition of the embedded Newsletter, Maturing the CMS Design System.     

Scott will present: 

  • What a design system is
  • Why a design system is important
  • How to get involved with the design system
  • And more!

Since 2004, Scott Weber has focused on improving online experiences for US citizens through the lens of design systems, front-end user experience, web standards, and accessibility.

Currently, he works for Ad Hoc as a Managing Senior UX Designer 2 : Front-end Specialist and serves as the design lead for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services design system. He has worked with various federal, state, and local governments. In addition to CMS his work includes, National Science Foundation (NSF), the Thrift Savings Program (TSP), and He is an alum of both 18F and NIC Inc. and brings a passion for web standards, human-centered design, and research.  

The presentation slides and recording will be available following the session on Confluence. 


When: Thursday, June 30, 1 PM ET

Where: Zoom, meeting ID 813 1725 3712, pass 050855

HCD as a Verb and Behavior

HCD as a Verb and Behavior 

Are you culturally ready for HCD? Our guest presenter will provide an insightful discourse on how to rethink and engage HCD as a verb and mindset of behaviors. The session will address how a defined and accessible HCD system:

  • Delineates given and successful mindsets, personalities, and rational thinking;
  • and the tools necessary to propel value-driven HCD.

Our guest presenter, Howard Montgomery, is a practicing agnostic Human-Centered Design Thinking expert who thrives across the consumer experience continuum of products, services, digital, brand, strategy, and environments. He has led, collaborated and consulted with multiple Fortune 100 companies: Ford Motor, Unilever, BMW, The Home Depot, Steelcase, P&G and LG Electronics across diverse business sectors; building products, automotive, consumer, food and healthcare. He holds 48 International Patents and has been the recipient of over 25 international awards including IDEA Awards, iF Award and Good Design Award, and multiple publications of his work. He has taught at several schools in the USA and UK. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Kingston University, London, UK and master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, USA, both in Design.

The presentation slides and recording will be available following the session on Confluence. 


When: Thursday, May 26, 1 PM ET

Where: Zoom, meeting ID 813 1725 3712, pass 050855

Brainstorming: How to Create More Ideas and Better Ideas.

A brainstorming session likely comes to mind when tasked with generating ideas to solve a problem or dream up an innovative solution. But does it work?

Quick answer: Yes. But if facilitated poorly or approached with a rigid perspective, it may lead to groupthink or an environment where good ideas go to die—the opposite of what you set out to accomplish.

Whether facilitating or participating in a brainstorming session, you will succeed by adhering to best practices and approaching the process with a creative mindset. So, what does success look like? More and better ideas!

The session will include:

  • How to protect and nurture ideas
  • Brainstorming best practices
  • Virtual brainstorming techniques

Our guest presenter is Senior Design Strategist Scott Reed with the HCD Center of Excellence and adjunct faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Scott has an MBA in Strategic Design and completed post-graduate work at Austin Center for Design.

The presentation slides and recording will be available following the session on Confluence. 


When: Thursday, April 28, 1 PM ET

Where: Zoom, meeting ID 813 1725 3712, pass 050855

Championing the Value of HCD in Government 

 Despite the expectations for federal agencies to become more user-friendly and customer-focused, human-centered design (HCD) often feels like it is left on the cutting room floor due to pressing deadlines, tight resources, and other constraints. The mandate is clear—from both customers and executive orders—yet we still face challenges when it comes to “selling” the value of HCD and related methods at the enterprise and product levels.  

 Join the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on Thursday, March 31, for Championing the Value of HCD in Government. Senior Design Strategist Brian Flaherty with Tantus Technologies will share best practices and facilitate small group discussions to: 

  • Explore ways to champion the value of HCD 
  • Reflect on common rebuttals, like HCD takes too much time 
  • Define success with a human-centered lens 
  • Co-create meaningful answers to why HCD helps government
  • Learn about tools and resources to help you make a case for HCD 

Brian has spent the better part of three decades pitching creative and communications services to an extensive list of proponents and naysayers alike. He is currently a Senior Design Strategist with the CCSQ Human-Centered Design Center of Excellence, has been a graphic designer for 30 years, and has been practicing HCD for 12. In addition, Brian spent 11 years as a Creative Director, Communications Supervisor, and HCD Practitioner at Johns Hopkins University. He holds a BA degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in Creative Writing and Public Relations. Brian is married, has a daughter preparing to head off to college, two cats, two dogs, 26 chickens, four ducks, a crested gecko, and an alpaca named Skinny Pete. 


When: Thursday, March 31, 1 PM ET

Where: Zoom, meeting ID 813 1725 3712, pass 050855

Improving customer experience (CX) has been a longtime government initiative. Whether seeking Social Security, Medicare benefits, or other services, Americans expect services to be efficient, intuitive, and responsive to their needs, just like services from leading private-sector organizations. In late 2021 President Biden signed an executive order designed to elevate CX on the same level as financial and operational performance. However, improving CX is not simple, and there are many nuances to consider.

Join the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice Thursday, February 24, for Customer Experience: A Fireside Chat with Stephanie Thum, CCXP. Stephanie is a sought-after expert on customer experience topics—particularly in the government space. Stephanie will join Rob Fay, HCD Strategy Lead with Tantus Technologies, for a conversation about:

  • A historical lens for CX and government
  • Influencers and drivers of CX
  • The intersection of user experience (UX) and CX
  • The unique role and opportunity for human-centered design
  • And more!

Stephanie Thum is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and founder of Practical CX. She served as one of the U.S. federal government’s first agency-level customer experience leaders at the Export-Import Bank of the United States from 2012-2016. Stephanie is a frequent podcast guest, webinar presenter, expert source often quoted in the trade press around White House CX policies and published in scholarly circles. She has written and spoken extensively on customer experience strategy, global voice of the customer techniques, metrics, communication, and customer experience governance in multiple sectors.

Stephanie currently works with government agencies, B2B firms, technology companies, and marketing firms. She also serves as the series editor for a collection of scholarly case studies for SAGE Publishing. 

Register today to join the discussion and collaborate with a community of professionals.

Call For Speakers

Create, share, and apply HCD knowledge

We are looking for speakers, contributors for panel discussions, and facilitators who can share their experiences and perspectives with human-centered design, product development, and other relevant topics with the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice.

Call for Speakers Submission Form.

The community of practice is a unique opportunity to share your perspective and expand thought leadership and visibility. If selected to speak, you will have a diverse audience of professionals from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and federal contractors across the product development ecosystem.  

Generally, we meet virtually on Zoom on the last Friday of each month at 1 PM ET. The one-hour sessions involve designers and researchers, engineers, product managers, and anyone passionate about human-centered design. Speakers share insights in various formats, such as presentations, case studies, panel discussions, and mini-workshops. 

Speakers include product team members and guest speakers. Recent sessions include The Content Audit: Agony and Ecstasy (presentation), Service Design for Hospital Quality Reporting: Service Blueprint and Journey Maps (case study), Driving Creativity and Improving Customer Experience with Empathy (panel discussion), and Creative Facilitation: Increase Collaboration, Productivity, and Innovation (mini-workshop).

The call for speakers will close on Friday, January 14. We will review the submissions and be in touch with everyone who submits by Friday, January 28.  

Thank you in advance for your interest in contributing to the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Call for Speakers Submission Form.

Using Ethnography to Make APIs Usable_HCD Community of Practice

Ethnographic methods that center systems thinking, how knowledge is constructed, and how knowledge is shared among communities are best for developing collective digital products like Application Programming Interfaces, known as APIs.

On Friday, December 17, at 1 PM ET, join the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice to explore APIs and human-centered design. Our guest presenters are Maria Vidart-Delgado, Senior UX Researcher, and John French, Senior UX Designer & Front-End Specialist with Ad Hoc LLC.

During the session, we will explore:

  • APIs as digital products that are built, maintained and consumed collectively.
  • The use of ethnography as a practical approach to researching the communities that use APIs and their end-products, understanding their information needs, and how they use an API.
  • Designing API functionality to answer end-user information needs, real-life questions, and easy-to-understand information architecture and documentation.

In this talk, the guest speakers will discuss Ad Hoc's approach to researching APIs by sharing their work with CMS Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) APIs and how qualitative research contributes to usable APIs. In addition, the presentation will include applying ethnographic methods to study end-users and communities of practice to design API functionality, architecture, documentation, and support. Finally, as a case study, they will demonstrate how ethnographic methods are highly effective in the context of APIs because these methods focus on understanding collectives and how they share information and knowledge.

Register today to join the discussion and to collaborate with a community of professionals.

We hope you were able to join us for CCSQ’s 3rd Annual World Usability Day last week! Session recordings and presentation slides are now available for viewing on the event site in case you missed a session, or just want to watch it again.

Sessions Included:

Thank you again for celebrating World Usability Day with us! 

World Usability Day

Watch our video to learn more!

Learn more and register now.

Join the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ), a component within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as we celebrate technology that works to harness human potential and make our lives easier with our 3rd Annual World Usability Day on November 10, 2021. World Usability Day is a day of events worldwide that brings together communities of professionals to focus on a common objective: to ensure that technology helps people live to their full potential.

The Information Systems Group (ISG), a part of CCSQ, will host a virtual event to explore this year's theme: Design of Our Online World: Trust, Ethics, and Integrity. With this theme, we seek to examine online products and design systems that are helping us to stay connected, learn, and grow in these transformational times. We also aim to address critical issues such as designing for trust, diversity, equity, and inclusion, dark patterns, and ethical design.

CCSQ's event will take place on Zoom from 8:30 AM ET – 4 PM ET with an open-house style format. The event will include presentations, case studies, a panel, and more with design and technology professionals. 

Guest speakers include: 

  • Carol J. Smith from Carnegie Mellon University, Software Engineering Institute, AI Division 
  • Mehlika Toy, Ph.D. from Stanford University, School of Medicine 
  • Hunter Whitney from eSimplicity 
  • Cupid Chan from Pistevo Decision 
  • Suzanne Martin-Devroye from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 
  • And more!

Topics will include: 

  • Defining and measuring trust as a UX practitioner, 
  • Democratizing user research, 
  • How empathy-driven design can help build trust,  
  • Ethical data visualization in public health,  
  • And more! 

Learn more and register now.

Developing empathy is often one of the first steps in the design process and can continue to evolve throughout the HCD lifecycle. Empathy is to see the world through another’s eyes. In design terms, that can mean working to understand and discover the needs of people so the designers can design solutions for them. Yet, when dealing with data and the rigor of product development, it can be easy to forget that we are designing for people.

On Friday, August 27, the HCD Community of Practice hosted a panel discussion to explore empathy and product development. Why is empathy a potent tool for developing products and services? How might we leverage empathy to drive creativity and improve customer experience?

View session recording 

Senior Design Strategist Brian Flaherty from Tantus Technologies and PM3 moderated a discussion with:

  • HCD Research & Design Lead and Product Strategist Bob Bethanis from Bellese and QMARS
  • Experience Designer and Researcher Justin Garcia with Ventech Solutions and SNOW
  • Human Centered Design Analyst Arthur Green with Ventech Solutions and SNOW
  • Design Researcher Meghan Nichols from Ventera and ESS
  • Experience Research Lead Kim Schulke from Flexion and EQRS

The panel explored a variety of themes, such as:

  • The role of empathy in product development and customer experience,
  • Developing shared empathy across a team, and
  • Moving beyond checking a box to using empathy to drive creativity.

View session recording

CCSQ World Usability Day_Save the Date_November 10 2021_Design of Our Online World

Every November, communities come together to celebrate how we can make the world easier for everyone. On Wednesday, November 10, ISG will host their 3rd annual program to explore this year’s theme, Design of Our Online World: Trust, Ethics, and Integrity. 

With this theme, we seek to examine online products and design systems that are helping us to stay connected and to learn and grow during these transformational times. We also aim to address critical issues like dark patterns, ethical design, designing for trust, and designing for diversity, equity, and inclusion. We look forward to learning with you through presentations, panel discussions, and activities throughout the day. 

Look for more information in the future. If you are interested in contributing to the program, please see our Call for Speakers.

Save the date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021.

Welcome to embedded, an online publication packed with timely content about all things human-centered design!

Published bi-monthly, embedded will now be delivered directly to your inbox. Each issue will encompass articles, videos, and interactive content concentrating on a central theme. You’ll learn about theme-related Human-Centered Design (HCD) methodologies, case studies, best practices, insider tips, and even applicable personal experiences presented by your colleagues in CCSQ.

The theme of this inaugural issue is “EMPATHY.” Inside you’ll find:

In addition to valuable theme-related content, you’ll discover upcoming HCD training and coaching opportunities; industry events; bios of fellow HCD practitioners; how-to videos; and access to practical HCD tools and resources.

Start flipping through the pages of embedded right now. Enjoy!

User research provides a critical design strategy foundation that allows you to understand and empathize with customers to design valuable products and services. Something this important does not come easy. At times, conducting user research can feel as though it is full of barriers, but it can be easier to manage with some upfront organization.

Join us for a case study of how the recently centralized Quality Payment Program’s (QPP) human-centered design team learned to be effective by scaling and streamlining the research processes. Highlights will include lessons learned when setting up a user research panel in Salesforce, creating a research repository in EnjoyHQ, and measuring the experience with a modified version of Forester’s Customer Experience Index.

Experience Research Lead Eva Floyd and Researcher and Designer Kiel McLaughlin from Agile Six, and HCD Researcher Christina Brandon from Huge will share their excitement, challenges, and frustrations to get it all set up for quality insights.

The session will include:

  • Strategies to create a steady stream of research panel participants.
  • The legal and ethical considerations that affect our governance process, from consent forms to handling personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Tips for connecting the dots between multiple research studies using a user research repository.
  • How the Customer Experience Index can help make a more holistic choice.

Register now.

Service design for Hospital Quality Reporting_Service blueprint and journey maps

Join us on Friday, June 25, for a case study about understanding Hospital Quality Reporting (HQR) as a multifaceted service.

Service design requires understanding the customer experience and how an organization’s resources (people, processes, and systems) affect the customer journey. Two critical service design tools are journey maps, which visualize a customer’s experience of a product or service from their vantage point, and service blueprints, which allow you to understand and imagine all the intricate components that make up the service.

In this joint presentation, three HQR Human-Centered Design User Research team members will share the service blueprint and user journey maps they created to understand how healthcare providers and quality improvement stakeholders experience CMS’s HQR system.

Human-Centered Design Lead Lesley Humphreys with Bellese Technologies and UX Researchers Fan Huang and Tyreek Houston from Ad Hoc will describe what they learned, what they are still curious about, and how this work can influence product process, goals, and decision-making.

The presentation will include:

    - Why service design methods are essential.

    - Their service design process.

    - How service design can integrate with SAFe processes and a product mindset.

Register now.