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.

Leveraging Human-Centered Techniques in Root Cause Analysis

Many organizations—including government, business, and healthcare—use root cause analysis to identify the fundamental reasons for an incident or failure so that they can improve future outcomes. Within product management and development, root cause analysis can lead to the source of an issue, allowing teams to enact corrective measures.

Root cause analysis often stops short at what and who instead of the systemic why, which can lead to a culture of blame without lasting improvement. 

What if tools from human-centered design, engineering, and psychology can lead to an improved understanding of why incidents occur and identify optimal solutions?

On Friday, May 28, join the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice for a high-level review of leveraging human-centered approaches for structured root cause analysis efforts.

Our guest presenters from ManTech’s Health Division — Edward O’Connor, Director, Architecture and Janie Gittleman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Global Health Innovation — will share real-life stories, review outcomes from the analysis process, and discuss how human-centered techniques can lead to better results. The presentation will cover different root cause analysis techniques and additional concepts from cognitive science, epidemiology, and machine learning.

Register now.

Behind the Glass: Introduction to Interview Techniques for Non-Researchers

"Where were you on May 1 at 10 PM?" is not the way to begin a user interview when looking to innovate products, services, or policies. While it may work in a dark, smoke-filled room with one swinging bulb, there are more effective means to get the information you need to understand your customers and their challenges.

Interviewing is a foundational HCD research method that people often assume they already possess. Everyone can ask questions, right? Isn't this just talking to people? If you want to move from gathering data to uncovering compelling insights, interviewing is more than a conversation or verbal exchange.

Join the CCSQ Human-Centered Design Community of Practice on Friday, April 30 at 1 PM ET. Senior Design Strategist Malaika Simmons from Tantus Technologies will share Behind the Glass: Introduction to Interview Techniques for Non-Researchers. Malaika will: 

  • Uncover the impact of interviewing,
  • Provide best practices for formulating questions, 
  • Introduce other ethnographic methods, and
  • Facilitate breakout sessions so you can experiment with ethnographic techniques.

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

What Three Heuristic Evaluations Taught Us About Iteration CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on March 26 at 1 PM ET.

What Three Heuristic Evaluations Taught Us About Iteration

Learn how a design team at CMS uses heuristic evaluations to improve the user experience during the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on Friday, March 26  at 1 PM ET.

Register now

A heuristic evaluation involves examining a digital product's interface to determine its compliance with established usability principles. A group teaming with the Office of Information Technology will discuss three heuristic evaluations and iterations to make improvements. 

The program will include:

  • Examples of heuristics.
  • How a cross-functional team can contribute to success.
  • How to approach evaluations from novice and expert skill backgrounds.
  • Lessons learned on conducting remote collaborative heuristic evaluations, including forming, scoring, and reporting results.
  • How to leverage and modify Excel spreadsheets and TestRail suite formatting to fit various needs.

The panel will include:

  • Ann Aly, UX Researcher, Agile 6
  • Amanda Beall, UX Designer, Fearless
  • Mike Brown, Scrum Master, Agile 6
  • Marisa Grotte, UX Designer and Researcher, Fearless
  • Daedriana Harvey, UX Designer, Fearless
  • Antoine Wright, UX Lead, Fearless

Join the discussion and collaborate with a community of professionals. Attend via Zoom.

Register today on Eventbrite with this link:

The Content Audit: Agony and Ecstasy

Join CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on Friday, February 26 at 1 PM ET.

Content strategy—the planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content—often entails generating new content but understanding the strengths and weaknesses of existing content is just as important. Performing a content audit is an excellent place to start.

A content audit can be time-consuming and often detailed and tedious work. But the thrill of evaluating and identifying opportunities to help improve your organization's content and ultimately customer experience makes it undoubtedly worth it.

Join the CCSQ Human-Centered Design Community of Practice on Friday, February 26 at 1 PM ET, as we welcome guest speaker Senior Content Strategist Julie Stromberg from Fearless, currently teaming with the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Julie will share:

  • Why content audits matter.
  • Case studies.
  • How to get started.
  • Analysis and connecting content to organizational goals.

Register here:

Join us for the CCSQ HCD Community of Practice on January 29, 2020.

Incorporating Web Analytics into Your Design Practice

Join us for the CCSQ Human-Centered Design Community of Practice on Friday, January 29, at 1 PM ET.

Web analytics is the collection, reporting, and analysis of website data ( This data can be used to measure the progress of organizational goals, and in turn, drive strategy and improve user experience. And yet, accurate, actionable, and data-rich web analytics can often seem out of reach or overwhelming with possibilities.

Join us for a discussion with guest speaker Tim Lowden, Manager of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), on user-centered design and web analytics. This session will focus on how web analytics metrics, dimensions, reports, and configurations can assist you with user-centered design.

Tim will also detail the DAP structure and benefits, which offers aggregated web analytics across 6,000 federal government sites. See and for more information.

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

Eventbrite for registration:

HCD & COVID-19: A Panel Discussion

Join the CCSQ Human-Centered Design Community of Practice on Friday, December 18, at 1 PM ET for a panel discussion about HCD & COVID-19.

In one way or another, every individual and organization has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing products and implementing human-centered design (HCD) research and other best practices has been uniquely challenging in the government sector. Likely more so for CMS when the healthcare delivery system is stretching to new limits and priorities shift to focus on the urgent matter at hand.

The work must continue despite a changing research environment, and we must navigate accordingly. The pandemic has only increased the need for HCD as we observe behavioral and psychological shifts within user groups and communities facing new challenges of their own.

The CCSQ HCD Community of Practice is assembling a panel moderated by Strategic Planning Lead and Enterprise Agile Coach Ali Tobolsky with Tantus Technologies and the LACE to discuss questions like:

  • What is the new normal and what does it mean?
  • How might we be more resilient and leverage the latest constraints to our advantage?
  • What have teams tried to do in response to these challenging times? What worked? What has not yet worked?
  • What shifts are we seeing with user groups or communities?

The panel will include:

  • Kisha Coa, Social Science Research Analyst, CMS Office of Communications, Strategic Marketing Group, Division of Research.
  • Erik Connors, Research Lead, Huge and primary researcher for the Quality Improvement and Evaluation System (iQIES).
  • Ian Lowrie, Lead User Experience Designer with Ad Hoc and currently teaming with Hospital Quality Reporting (HQR).
  • Sarah Tully, Product Manager, CMS Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA), Data and Analytics Strategy Group (DASG).

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

CCSQ World Usability Day
Explore The Event Site & Register Now!

CCSQ will celebrate its 2nd Annual World Usability Day on November 12, 2020. With an exciting line-up of speakers and engaging topics, this is a virtual conference you will not want to miss!   

World Usability Day is a global celebration to focus on the importance of design. This year’s theme, Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (AI), sounds futuristic—but in reality, it is all around us. During our virtual open-house event, we will explore the unique design challenges of AI.    

Highlights will include morning and afternoon plenary sessions:  

Visit the event site to register, review the schedule, and learn about our speakers

Join us for the HCQIS Human-Centered Design Community of Practice on October 30th!

HCD Community of Practice on Friday, October 30, 2020_Researchers Don't Let Friends Use Unreliable Task Ratings

Usability studies often include tasks for participants to complete, which are then ranked for perceived difficulty. However, these rankings are often subjective and non-standardized across studies conducted within the same team.

To learn how we might improve task ratings' reliability, we will welcome a special guest speaker Ann M. Aly, a social scientist and UX researcher. Ann will share a 5-level rubric her team created to assess task difficulty for task factors contributing to (non)completion. Interrater reliability testing used Cohen's Kappa (which measures the agreement between raters) to ensure rigor and consistency in rankings.

The presentation will include best practices and practical tips, like:

  • How to make task assessments less subjective
  • How to keep ratings rigorous, eligible for quantitative assessments, and increase research maturity among team members
  • The benefits of a standardized rubric across studies and the importance of developing a shared language into a cross-functional team
  • Using detailed task ratings to justify which domains or features require the most resources before release, like a mini heuristic evaluation
  • A how-to guide for conducting a quantitative assessment and sample rubric

Ann M. Aly is a social scientist and mixed methods UX researcher at Agile 6 Applications. She is currently teamed with Fearless Solutions to support Human-Centered Design at CMS' Office of Information Technology. Ann firmly believes in keeping the social in social science by centering the perspectives of those whose research her work serves and by making her insights accessible to non-specialists. Before joining Agile 6, Ann conducted research and consulted on higher education, bilingual communities, skill acquisition, and culturally relevant healthcare applications. Ann enjoys caffeinated beverages, remote beaches, and entry-level woodworking when not lost in a spreadsheet or transcript.

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