The Platform is the common infrastructure, technical and non-technical components, and processes that support static and interactive content consumed by Veterans via VA.gov. Major pieces of the Platform include a set of APIs that manage communication between a Veteran user and internal VA resources, an identity and authentication system, the VA.gov Design System, reusable frontend components, a Drupal-based content management system, and an extensive set of documentation and guides.

Definitions

What is the VA.gov Platform?

The Platform team is here to give you the tools, systems, and guidance you need to build online experiences on VA.gov that will improve Veterans' lives. As you develop your product, we’ll be your support team helping you through the VA.gov ecosystem, best practices, and processes, including the iterative cycle of ideation and strategy, user testing, launching code, and measuring results.

What is VA.gov?

The website serving as the single place Veterans can go to find, apply for, track, and manage the benefits they've earned.

What is a Veteran-facing Services (VFS) team?

You are! Any team building online Veteran-facing experiences is a VFS team.

Working in the open

We work in the open and strive to keep as much of our code and other work product in publicly accessible open source repositories. You will have access to our open-source (i.e. public) GitHub repository for tracking work and documentation. Here are some ground rules to make sure you know what not to do when working in a public repo.

What to expect as you design, build, launch, iterate

Here are materials you should start familiarizing yourself with to help you learn how to create online experiences the VA.gov way, and how to work with the Platform as you go.

Product

Document what you're building, what problem it's solving, what outcomes you hope it achieves, and how you'll measure success. And track the work necessary to actually deliver the solution.

Design

Create and test visual artifacts that define the features of the solution and that help engineers build out the solution in code.

Content

Create content as a part of every online experience - whether it's button labels or full pages of static introductory copy.

Information architecture

Determine the most intuitive place for Veterans to access your application, the appropriate URL, placement in navigation, and the cross-linking strategy.

Engineering

In tiny iterative chunks and with robust testing, bring the solution to life through code.

Accessibility

Test incrementally to make sure your solutions work for everyone.

Analytics and insights

Incorporate analytics into your code so that you can track the health of your solution over time and understand whether it's achieving the outcomes you hoped it would.

Here's how to set KPIs to track the success of your VA.gov solutions.

The Platform team is here to help you as you set up KPIs and integrate analytics in your code. Reach out to #vfs-platform-support in Slack to schedule a 1:1 with us so we can help, and to schedule an Analytics review.

You'll need reviews from the Platform team to help you make sure you're on track! Here's what to expect, and how to request an Analytics review.

QA

Both manually and through automated tests, ensure your solution is doing what you want it to do.

ATO

You'll need to ensure the solution you're building has the authority to operate (ATO).

Security

Get your solution tested for potential technical security issues/vulnerabilities, focusing particularly on frontend-backend interactions, anything involving certificates or cookies, and any new interactions with dependent backends.

You'll need check-ins with the Platform team to help you make sure you're on track! Reach out to #vfs-platform-support in Slack to schedule a 1:1 with us so we can schedule a security review.

Privacy

Get your solution tested to look for potential user data issues, including affirming best practices around handling personally identifiable information.

You'll need check-ins with the Platform team to help you make sure you're on track! Reach out to #vfs-platform-support in Slack to schedule a 1:1 with us so we can schedule a privacy review.

Production readiness / infrastructure

Get your technical architecture tested, to look for potential scaling concerns, dependency analysis, SLO assessment.