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PORTFOLIO: Project 3

Earnings Queries System Redesign: Prototype Design & Testing

Once the UX team validated our conceptual model for a new Earnings Queries application (this was Project 2Stage 2 began. We began designing and building a prototype in Axure during this stage. Before Stage 2 wrapped up, the UX team conducted usability testing. 

My Role

Lead UX Designer


UX Process for the Second Stage



The process for Stage 2 of the project included the following:

  • Agile Process was initiated

    • The team began building the backlog 

    • Stories added for UX team to begin designing a functional prototype 

  • Designing and building a functional prototype in Axure following stories in the backlog

    • Team review of designs during Sprint Reviews

  • Iteration and refinement of design as needed

  • Additional usability testing as needed (on-going)


Prototype Design


The UX team designed the Earnings Queries prototype using:

  • Knowledge of the current process and green screen functionality

  • An understanding of the users likes and dislikes, pain points and needs for the current process. (The team created user personas in Stage 1: View Personas)

  • Findings from paper prototype testing, as well in input from the Product Owner and other team members.

  • The User Experience Framework (UEF): a pattern library of over 70 patterns used for designing all SSA application


You may view selected screenshots from the prototype below or take a quick tour via these Earnings Queries Prototype videos:

  • Prototype Video 1: The user first search for a Social Security Number (SSN). The user has options to search for additional years.

  • Prototype Video 2: The user has the options to search for multiple SSNs

  • Prototype Video 3: Search results show summary level details for the selected SSN including the number holder name, address, etc. The user can then drill down into detailed earnings which shows the number holder's employment history. 

























Usability Testing


Before the completion of Release 1, the UX team completed usability testing using our working prototype to:

  • Confirm assumptions and decisions by stakeholders and project team

  • Improve application functionality by incorporating feedback from users

  • Provide context and background for future decisions and functionality

A prepared Facilitator Guide was used to ensure that each participant was asked the same questions in a consistent manner. We also provided them with a common scenario in which they use Earnings Queries to give them context for the prototype.


Testing Results


Usability testing results were positive. Participants rated the prototype for level of difficulty (with 1 being hard to use and 10 being easy to use). The final score was 9.5 out of 10 for ease of use. The team analyzed the results and presented the findings to the team. Some of the user feedback included: 

  • Create an exit button that allows users to go back to their main application portal

  • Add additional help or instructional text

  • Provide users different options to display the results for multiple SSNs

  • Ability to print separate years of detail earnings instead of all years displayed on the screen


Participant Quotes:

  • “I can see this will be a good tool. Layout and information is visible and clean. I wonder how fast it could be being web-based comparing to [the current system].”

  • “It works a lot better for me. It’s much cleaner and more modern. Gives all I need and leaves all extra garbage aside.”

  • “I like that you have the option that you can click on these years and you can do all or just specific ones. You’d have to go through pages and pages in [the current system].”

  • “It’s definitely better than what we have – much easier to see information.”



Some Kudos!


The project was honored with a DCS (Deputy Commissioner, Systems) Honors award from the Deputy Commissioner of Systems for recognition of the outstanding teamwork in creating, streamlining and transforming the modernized summary and detailed earnings web screens for over 40,000 front line employees to support claims.

Selected screenshots from the Prototype

Click on an image to expand the slider.

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