Secure Messaging

In 2016 I joined the Digital Service at the VA as the lead designer of the health team. One of my first projects there was to work on migrating secure messaging from My HealtheVet (MHV) to

visual design, ux design, responsive web design


Re-create existing functionality as well as update and enhance the design of secure messaging to's platform and branding with the constraints of the MHV API and existing business rules.



Secure messaging is the application that Veterans use to communicate with their health care team at the VA. Basically an email client with just your health care team. I first started by looking at what research MHV had already done. I read through white papers and meeting notes and took notes on those. I went through the current experience of MHV, documenting how to do all the different tasks in a GitHub markdown file. We also involved our stakeholders from the very beginning.

User tasks and flows

I wrote down all the possible user tasks so I can work with our developers to see what we can and cannot do based on the API we were using. And then I mapped out all of the user flows to do all of the different user tasks.

From here we did some user testing with the current version of secure messaging, gathered our notes, and dove into design. I looked for inspiration from modern web clients that Veterans were using, so there would be a sense of familiarity when using our secure messaging. I looked at Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.


Using Sketch I designed each page and went through all the user tasks of secure messaging, thinking about the API constraints, business rules, branding, possible states, and user experience.


Normally we would’ve tested our mocks but we did not have the resources to do so and could not recruit Veterans in time with our release schedule. So instead we just gathered stakeholder feedback and incorporated that into the designs.

Final designs

In the end we modernized and created a better experience for 9.7 million Veterans to get the help they need, a little easier and faster.

If you like what you see, let’s make something fun together!

© 2018 Designed and coded my Angel Kittiyachavalit