Why It Needs Help - My Letter

This is an open letter to the Covered California website designer, administrators, bureaucrats and contractors.

Website Design and Usability

I have several things listed below. Things I find to be of poor design or just plain broken.

You Don’t Got Mail!

  • “Secure Mailbox (2)” even though nothing was in my mail box.

  • It randomly logged me out.


  • I am low on time for open enrollment and it gave me a “Pay Now” button in order to do it faster, but the button was broken. It would pop up and then if I tried to pay it would throw a JavaScript error in my console and close out. Now I can’t pay. It’s weird when people don’t want my money.

  • The page refreshing on every submission of information is mind numbing. Just cache it. Or make the template more clean. Or make it more responsive.

All your accounts all belong to us!

  • My Account section has almost nothing about what plans I selected. I am glad I was taking screenshots along the way. How do you guys even know what I selected. Isn’t there a table with a key that can simply show what my plans look like? How do I get back to that information? It shouldn’t be this hard. Do you even care about me getting to my coverage?

  • You sent me zero email notifications based on what I was signing up for. And I specifically put that email was my preferred contact method. Instead you handed it off to someone else and washed your hands. They will be mailing me things. I don’t go to my mailbox every day. It’s a drive. I’m not some home loafer who waits by his mailbox.

Penrose Navigation

  • The layout of the pages is all wrong. It’s got too much nonsense on it. Right hand home page “extra” navigation is hard to see and nonintuitive.

  • You have an informational video on the bottom left barely under the fold. Why? Shouldn’t there be an info section or a knowledge base. Just use another website for an example.

We are up 100% of the time 50% of the day!

  • Work on reliability. The site will be down or throwing errors half the time I got through.

  • It took me 5 tries to actually get through this whole process. It was painful. No commercial company would survive this.

We Not Home

  • Why do you make me fill in 8!!! lines of information to start a live chat. Seriously. If I am logged in just open the chat window and start talking. Is this a game? Don’t make me mask my phone number with special characters… Especially if you know it’s going to just be integers. (###) ###-##### no! I don’t like that format. I use dots because i’m not older than 50 and know how to use a 10key. What if I was doing this on a mobile device. Have you even watched Office Space? Do you want someone to red stapler your website?

  • Why is “report a change” hovering in some dead zone where a lady and a baby are. Is that lady and baby supposed to make me think men don’t apply or that I should be taking out more coverage because there are family health issues at stake here. Report a change should show up when you log in. Just get people to log in and then present the info in order.

  • The ordering of your navigation is not industry best practices.

  • On the right… those options? Some are grayed out. You aren’t looking at this the right way. It is highly confusing. Are they headers or do they just disappear? If they are disabled why? Why can’t I discontinue any time?

  • You need to control state on your navigation. For instance: if i am signed up and you dont’ want to show “select a plan” and instead make “change plan” the path then you dont’ leave “select a plan” still there and just gray it out. Why? If it’s not available then remove it. It’s like when you are editing something you don’t have two buttons for create and save next to each other and just gray out create. You remove it. It’s not relevant or part of the user state.

Loco Help

  • BTW I tried the “Find Local Help” button and all the people I called on that suggested list said they don’t help with Medical or Covered CA. I’m not sure what your intention is there.

  • The “Español ▼” dropdown should actually be a drop down. I went to click on espanol and it just changed the language instead of actually giving me the drop down. You are doing double duty on that field and it’s misleading.

Mobiles Need Not Apply

  • This website is NOT mobile friendly. Big sin buddies. Are none of your constituents under 30?

That is pretty much all I picked up today.


Stop hiring crony consultants and design firms. Give respectable shops a chance to do it right. You might actually save some money and have some customer satisfaction.

Just my .02