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.
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?
VFS team is defined as all veteran-facing teams developing products using the VA.gov Platform.
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.
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.
Please store your VA.gov Product documentation in the va.gov-team repo product folders. As of November 2019, we're in the process of copying select legacy documentation from the vets.gov-team repo to supplement va.gov-team; expect to see additional content and updates to links as this work continues through January 2020.
Teams regularly use ZenHub to better organize GitHub issues. Here's how the team uses ZenHub to manage its work.
Learn how we do research for VA digital services.
Here's how to plan, conduct and synthesize research findings..
You'll need to have your research plan reviewed before you recruit participants. Here's what to expect, and how to request a midpoint review
Create and test visual artifacts that define the features of the solution and that help engineers build out the solution in code.
Here's how to create great user-centered designs for VA.gov solutions.
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 a design review
Create content as a part of every online experience - whether it's button labels or full pages of static introductory copy.
Here are the best practices for writing great, plain language content on VA.gov
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 a content review
Determine the most intuitive place for Veterans to access your application, the appropriate URL, placement in navigation, and the cross-linking strategy.
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 decide on your cadence for IA check-ins.
In tiny iterative chunks and with robust testing, bring the solution to life through code.
Here's how to write great front end code for VA.gov solutions.
Here's how to write great back end code for VA.gov solutions.
You'll need frequent (usually around weekly) code reviews from the Platform team to hep you make sure you're on track! Here's what to expect, and how to request a code review
Test incrementally to make sure your solutions work for everyone. Accessibility should be part of every step of your product’s lifecycle.
Here’s a video about Sketch for Teams, including how to include accessibility annotations in your prototypes.
Here are resources for conducting research with assistive technology users.
Here’s how to test your product for accessibility before your staging review.
Here’s how to request an audit from the VA 508 Office after you launch.
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.
Both manually and through automated tests, ensure your solution is doing what you want it to do.
The Platform team is here to help you as you test to ensure your solutions are top quality! Reach out to #vfs-platform-support in Slack to ask questions, or schedule a meeting with us so we can help when you need it.
You'll need to ensure the solution your building has the authority to operate (ATO).
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.
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.
Help and feedback
Create an issue ticket to suggest changes to this page