Virginia Retirement
System portal UX review

Empowering retirees with an easy life


Virginia Retirement System (VRS) knew that their aging population of teachers, firefighters, police offers and others would need a fool-proof web application to manage their benefits and personal information.

Virginia Retirement System was ready to launch a new online benefits account management system. They only had one major problem: no usability testing or analysis had been done, and no users had been involved in the application development process. VRS needed a high level of satisfaction from their members in order to reduce call center volume and guarantee a higher level of user adoption.

Launching a new web based application to a computer-challenged user population was risky. The State agency selected Experience Dynamics to help minimize risk for their upcoming launch.


Virginia Retirement System needed quick insight into whether the proposed retirement benefits dashboard contained any usability flaws. Experience Dynamics spent three days performing a comprehensive expert usability review of the myVRS web application.

First, we conducted an expert Usability Review of the existing application and current usability. This involved rapid analysis using Experience Dynamics usability evaluation checklist as well as assessing the web application user experience against usability best practices and known web application usability issues. The review showed priority of findings, an important indicator for product managers, developers and the design team to grasp severity of the findings.

Next, in order to engage stakeholders new to the usability research process, Experience Dynamics provided design recommendations including “graphically- enhanced” wireframe prototypes showing how to implement the usability findings. Five key areas of the web application were redesigned in less than two days, with major “adoption-blockers” removed including: log-in, privacy and the intuitiveness of user’s account and benefits summary.

The findings contained new suggestions for log-in strategy, first dashboard view and the best way to present tables, calculators and wizards. In addition, a new simplified and user-friendly navigation system was proposed, an important aspect of the design that novice computer users required.

In a short time frame, the Experience Dynamics usability review gave VRS key decision makers the immediate insight they needed to make rapid launch decisions. Within one week, key stakeholders were able to move past strategic design problems using the findings from the Experience Dynamics team’s report. The report brought the team together to discuss the right issues, and to advocate for design changes from a user’s perspective.

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  • Virginia Retirement System were able to avoid delays in launching their web application.
  • The rapid review anad redesign inspired the State agency to conduct usability testing and incorporate usability into their development process for improved quality of software delivery.
  • Virginia Retirement System were able to avoid delays in launching their web application.

A before and after image is shown in the gallery below. The tablet image is a design recommendation (“visually enhanced wireframe”- not Visual Design). 


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