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GCXchange Collaborative Platform


Make GCXchange, the Government of Canada's largest interdepartmental collaboration platform and largest Microsoft instance in the world, accessible and useable to public servants across the country.

Role - Manager of UX & Service Design

As manager of UX for Collaborative Platforms for the Government of Canada, I led end-to-end research and design for the project. I managed a team of designers and researchers and took on the role of product owner while we waiting for one to be added to the team.


Me + 3 designers and 2 strategists; alongside 3 client support agents, 3 developers, 1 cloud architect.

Project designs and recommendations were implemented and shared with the Assistant Deputy Minister, though many UX barriers exist due to the limitations of using COTS.

Context & Approach


GCXchange was created between 2019 and 2021. The platform was intended to be a digital workplace and collaboration site for federal employees across Canada, in all departments and agencies. It would include tools employees would need daily, like pay and pension information, as well as joinable e-communities for collaboration, and official interdepartmental news. Since the federal government works primarily with Microsoft programs, it was decided that this platform would be built from Microsoft tools with a foundation in Team and Sharepoint.


When the platform launched in 2021, it launched with little UX behind it. No usability testing had been done on the platform, and most design decisions had been motivated by a single round of one-click testing on a LowFi homepage prototype, or by a top-down push. I was hired in April 2022, to fix the result of these decisions. I was asked to build a team of skilled UX designers & researchers and to make the platform's user experience intuitive, accessible and delightful.

GCXchange Community landing page



  • Product Roadmapping

  • Affinity Mapping

  • Design Strategy

  • Heuristic Evaluation

  • Performance Metrics

  • Web Analytics

  • Benchmarking

  • Accessibility Testing & Research

  • Agile UX Sprints

  • Remote Usability Testing

  • Quantitative Evaluative Analysis

  • HiFi Prototyping

  • Multivariate testing

  • UX Copy Writing & UX Design

  • Content Strategy

Research for GCXchange began with a UX evaluation of all the main pages of the site. This included the home page, communities page, and all other links from the primary and secondary navigation, as well as the navigation itself. The product had launched without this testing being conducted, so, unfortunately, our team had to fix usability barriers retroactively. We identified many issues with the basic functionality of the site; everything from dead links to user flows that would not work based on certain departmental security policies.

The best research involves the user, so our next step was to test several basic user flows with real users from different departments. We based our tests on key user goals for the site: joining a community or searching for a community. The results were shocking.


Some users couldn't even register to the platform. The largest department in the public service was still using Internet Explorer, and fields were uneditable on that browser. Those that could register had to wait up to ten minutes for a confirmation email, at which point most users would lose interest. Those that were on the platform, not a single user could join a group; the process failed for all 8 users because it was too complicated and triggered a loop between their browser-based GCXchange version of MS Teams and their desktop application of Teams. Since GCXchange uses a different Microsoft ID than their departmental teams due to separate Cloud instances, the tool was virtually unusable.

Before UX improvements, 50% of users could find a specific community. After UX improvements, 75% of users could find a specific community. Before UX improvements, 0% of users could join a community page. After UX improvements, 100% of users could join a community page.

When we tested our UX changes with a pool of users, we noticed a dramatic improvement in their ability to accomplish crucial tasks.

Before UX research, 0% of users could accomplish the main task of the product. After UX research, their ability to accomplish this task increased to 100%.

The UX team designed several solutions to these issues by working with the development team. They created a script to circumvent the pop-ups that were confusing users and push users to the in-browser version of Teams on the appropriate Cloud instance. We redesigned every main page of the site for easier navigation, prioritizing user flows that encouraged community building and collaboration. When we returned to users to test the new pages we found radical improvement.

Our team also conducted extensive accessibility testing on the site and found several errors. I provided accessibility testing training for the development team as well to ensure they could test builds before UAT testing. I became the accessibility UAT leader on the team and escalated many of the issues we found to Microsoft, working closely with their Accessibility Support to fix these issues with browser and application versions of Teams and Sharepoint.

A view of the GCXchange homepage before and after our UX testing with different designs

Confusing side bar hidden

Naming in navigation made more intuitive

Thematic Hubs and Communities given visual priority as main goals of site

Descriptive headings and accessible tagging added to site



The UX and accessibility of GCXchange radically improved since I joined the team and created our UX team. We have added users from every department and agency in the federal government and have hundreds of thousands of users on the platform. Users can now accomplish all the key goals of the platform without trouble.


That said, there are still issues with the platform inherent in trying to manipulate a COTS product to a unique aim. Sharepoint and Teams are not designed to for browser. GCXchange uses these products, but must work in browser due to its Cloud architecture. As such, there are still accessibility issues and usability issues with GCXchange that won't be fixed until the government can move to a united instance. Sharepoint and Teams were also not developed with all the same user goals in mind as GCXchange, so there are barriers to building some of the features we hope to include. For example, a career hub is a goal of the product, but security silos block our ability to create a united directory for all users, which is crucial to generating career profiles. There is still a lot of potential in the application and the UX team is dedicated to getting GCXchange to achieve all we hope for it in the future.

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