Blog and News

Beyond Language Translation: How Bixal's Product Teams Help Government Agencies and Organizations Better Serve Spanish-Speakers Nationwide

April 30, 2024

As the U.S. Latino population continues its rapid growth, the demand for government services tailored to meet the needs of these communities is on the rise. For Bixal, this entails much more than just language translation; it involves delving deep into the multifaceted aspects that shape these vibrant communities. Through user research, we work to understand the intricate cultural nuances and contextual factors that shape their experiences. Integrating these insights into our human-centered approach to product development has been a niche but important focus of Bixal’s work since our beginnings in 2008. Over the years, this focus has evolved into a sophisticated practice and continues to grow as we partner with agencies and organizations dedicated to empowering Spanish-dominant communities across the nation.

Who We Serve

Our federal partners are mandated to deliver digital services with a user-centered focus, a demographic that increasingly includes Hispanics who, according to the Pew Research Center, represent 19% of the U.S. population and growing. As the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, totaling nearly 64 million individuals, this population embodies a rich tapestry of backgrounds, reflecting diverse countries of origin and ancestral ties. Their perceptions of Hispanic identity are as varied as their cultural heritage, and many of them believe in the importance of preserving the Spanish language for future generations.

Latino Communities are also increasingly critical to the U.S. economy. Between 2007 and 2019, the Stanford Graduate School of Business reported, Latino-owned businesses grew by 34%, reflecting nearly five million businesses across the country generating more than $800 billion in annual revenue.

Whether providing online health information or small business loans, our federal partners forge transformative connections with Spanish-speaking Americans every day. Bixal’s deep-seated commitment to serving this population in the digital realm is in our DNA, and it began on day one.

How It Began

Over the past fifteen years, Bixal has evolved from providing Spanish-language communications and outreach support to assembling comprehensive Spanish-language product teams. These teams comprise bilingual user experience (UX) researchers, UX/user interface designers, product managers, content strategists, and other skilled professionals.

Our commitment to this unique offering is deeply rooted in the firsthand experiences of our co-founder and CEO, Carla Briceno, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Guatemala. Carla’s service as a health nutrition specialist provided her with a deep understanding of the challenges facing the diverse communities she worked with, particularly the poorest communities who, at the time, made approximately $1 U.S. a day growing subsistence crops for large landowners. Living and working alongside Guatemalans, she gained invaluable insights into the critical importance of investing time and effort to understand how to tailor services to meet their unique circumstances.

Credit is also due to Bixal’s co-founder, Jose Briceno, who is originally from Venezuela and shares Carla’s enthusiasm and dedication to serving Spanish speakers in the United States and Latin America. Together, their shared passion has been instrumental in shaping our inclusive approach to human-centered design (HCD). The following are snapshots of individual projects that highlight Bixal’s commitment to serving Spanish-speakers nationwide.

March of Dimes’ Spanish-Language Website,

During its early years, Bixal collaborated with the March of Dimes to redesign its Spanish-language website, The mission of the March of Dimes is to end preventable maternal health risks and death, end preventable preterm birth and infant death, and close the health equity gap for all families.

Working closely with the team, our team delved into understanding the diverse segments of the Latina community that March of Dimes aims to assist. These segments include women across various stages of the maternal lifecycle: preconception, expectant mothers, new mothers (both mission-affected and non-mission-affected), and mothers who have experienced loss.

Using primary and secondary data, Bixal developed user personas tailored to these distinct segments to guide the website redesign process. Subsequent in-person usability testing with representative users allowed for refinement and enhancement of the design. The revamped website offered a culturally and linguistically relevant online platform, fostering interactive engagement and learning. It aims to strengthen March of Dimes’ bond with diverse Spanish-speaking communities, enhance pregnancy and birth outcomes, and support families. This project served as a significant inspiration for Bixal to deepen its involvement in developing digital products and services for diverse communities.

Our Work with Federal Partners

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Another of Bixal’s early projects involved supporting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its efforts to strengthen the nation’s housing counseling community through its Housing Counseling Program. The housing counseling community consists of nonprofit organizations and state and local government agencies, as well as the individual counselors that work to provide information, advice, and tools for people seeking, financing, maintaining, renting, or owning a home.

In 2013, Bixal began working with HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling to develop a training, testing, and certification program to demonstrate the competence of individual counselors participating in the agency’s Housing Counseling Program. The office, which had recently been established, helps families to obtain, sustain, or retain their homes by connecting them to its network of HUD-participating housing counseling agencies and HUD-certified housing counselors.

Bixal assembled a skilled team comprising digital project managers, subject matter experts (SMEs), instructional systems designers, e-learning developers, UX specialists, and visual designers to craft the training curriculum and delivery platform for HUD. Collaboratively, we defined learning objectives and developed a comprehensive course syllabus encompassing 15 interactive e-learning modules. To create the practice test and certification exam, our adult learning experts worked closely with the SMEs to identify and validate the key knowledge, skills, and abilities that would demonstrate housing counseling competence.

Bixal was initially contracted to develop training materials for English-language speakers only. However, when HUD learned of our capabilities to serve Spanish-speaking audiences, they asked us to develop the materials in Spanish too. The Bixal team completed a full translation of the training materials and exam items, accommodating cultural and linguistic diversity by applying a broad contextual lens to eliminate bias for a particular answer choice on the exam. We also developed an English-Spanish glossary of terms and concepts for consistent translation that would be understood by the diverse U.S. Spanish-speaking community.

“Our work with HUD elevated the profile of the housing counseling community, providing an opportunity for counselors to validate their expertise and obtain certification through the HUD Housing Counseling Program. The Spanish-language translation expanded the reach of training and testing materials and helped ensure that Spanish-language families across the U.S. have access to the same HUD standards for housing counseling services.”
—Maricarmen Smith-Martinez, Program Manager for the HUD project

Bixal’s work not only expanded the U.S. housing counseling sector’s lexicon and ability to serve diverse groups of American families, but it did so based on research and first-hand knowledge of the needs of Spanish-speaking communities. Learn more about Bixal’s work with HUD.

National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

One of our most enduring partnerships is with the National Institute of Health’s (NIH’s) National Library of Medicine (NLM), its flagship website, MedlinePlus, and its companion site, MedlinePlus en español. Each year, hundreds of millions of individuals access these popular online health information portals. These websites provide reliable, relevant, and timely health and wellness information to the public and aim to empower people to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families.

Bixal’s diverse team of UX specialists, medical and Spanish-language health content specialists, health and consumer librarians, developers, and designers manage both the English and Spanish MedlinePlus websites.

Our Spanish-language content specialists provide Spanish translation, manage 13,000+ Spanish-language health topic links, translate medical tests, and promote MedlinePlus website content across various social media channels with tailored and culturally relevant content to engage Spanish-speaking users.

The team also supported the launch of MedlinePlus Genética. This new addition to the Spanish site translates the English site’s section on genetics into Spanish for the first time. The product has received attention and support across the bilingual community and has been very well received as there are not many genetics resources currently available in the Spanish language.

We also helped create a Spanish-language tutorial for MedlinePlus’ health evaluation tool, which helps users determine whether they can trust the health information they find on other websites. Our work with NLM, which began in 2015, continues today. Learn more about Bixal’s work with NLM.

Working in the federal space presents its challenges at times, but we've learned that transformative change doesn't always require a drastic leap from 0 to 100; there are incremental approaches that can yield significant results.

U.S. Small Business Administration

Bixal’s collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) encompasses various crucial aspects necessary for an effective government website serving the public: project management, accessible design, content strategy, site governance, customer support, and more. Over time, our involvement extended to include the development of a Spanish-language counterpart to the SBA’s English website, encouraged by our understanding of diverse audience needs.

SBA works to strengthen the economy by supporting the development and viability of the more than 33 million small businesses that operate in the U.S., and by assisting communities after disasters. We helped SBA achieve its mission by making its information on loan programs and small business initiatives more accessible and easier to read in both English and Spanish. When we began work with the SBA in 2018, only a fraction of’s content was available in Spanish. However, as the global pandemic struck in 2020, prompting the rollout of new loan programs for struggling small businesses, the agency recognized the heightened importance of Spanish-language content.

Our initial step in expanding Spanish-language content involved gaining insights into the country’s millions of Latino small business owners and identifying those who relied on for assistance. In the first year, we identified the primary ethnic composition of SBA’s audience, developed a tailored glossary accommodating subdialects, and educated stakeholders on the limitations of tools like Google Translate and the varying levels of Internet access.

Research conducted by our team revealed that most Spanish-speaking users accessed via mobile devices prompting SBA to prioritize mobile accessibility of its web content. Additionally, we conducted a comprehensive content audit of the SBA website, identifying areas for improvement, refining the Spanish content site map, establishing a manageable schedule for creating bilingual content in real-time, and reconceptualizing the site on the back end to work as a fully bilingual site. Learn more about Bixal’s work with SBA.

Equal Access to Government Benefits

The federal government offers innumerable benefits to people based on life experiences, such as the death of a loved one, disability, and retirement, but accessing that information online can be a challenge for both English and Spanish speakers. One of our federal clients helps consumers locate and understand government benefits, programs, and information with a tool that aims to simplify the process, and our team—our first fully bilingual English-Spanish product team—has played an active role in helping our client ensure the tool works for all who use it.

Our bilingual team includes a content strategist, designer, data analyst, UX researcher, and project manager. In our collaboration to redesign the tool in both English and Spanish, we are working with our client to conduct the first-ever user research of the tool with Spanish speakers.

Since Spanish speakers are twice as likely to rely on smartphones to access the internet compared to English-language users, a mobile-first approach is being used. The potential user challenges to address include:

  • Enhanced discoverability of complete pages in Spanish.
  • Improved quality and cultural relevance of Spanish content.
  • Increased mobile-friendliness of Spanish-language resources.
“Our team refers to this approach as ‘transcreation' instead of just translation. We’re not just converting words from English into Spanish; we’re adding cultural context to the tool through research to make it more relatable and easier to navigate for Spanish-dominant users. We’ve also been mindful of accessibility needs throughout the design process, rather than leaving it as an afterthought.”
—Nicolas Doyle, Senior UX Researcher

Tools that UX researchers use often prioritize desktop usage and lack mobile-friendly interfaces, potentially impeding effective user research. In response to these challenges, the team’s UX researcher implemented proactive strategies for conducting online and offline user research. Spanish-speaking research participants were recruited locally and in person and research was conducted with them to ensure comprehensive insights.

Additionally, to facilitate remote research with Spanish speakers, onboarding guides were developed to help Spanish speakers onboard and engage with research platforms that are primarily available in English. These guides provide step-by-step guidance, in Spanish, to assist participants in navigating the online user testing tool, streamlining the previously challenging process.


Bixal’s experienced Spanish-language product teams have the unique capability to design and develop digital products that resonate with Spanish-speaking audiences, ensuring that vital information and services are easily accessible. From supporting high-quality translation to moving toward a more sophisticated approach that encourages our clients to prioritize user research with real users—and to use those findings to develop impactful communications and products—is integral to our purpose-driven work to engage and empower as many people as possible. Serving Hispanic and Latino communities has been, and will always be, a core part of who we are.