HorizonBlue.com (Bad Design)

It’s rare to actually enjoy visiting a health insurance website, and the site for my health insurance provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (HorizonBlue.com) is no exception.

Horizon Blue Homepage
Horizon Blue Homepage

The homepage for Horizon Blue is heavily focused on attracting new health insurance members, as opposed to serving its existing members. The welcome screen is dominated by a large photo of a Horizon Blue employee, who, it seems to suggest, will help you buy insurance! Whatever method you want to buy insurance — online, by phone, at a local event — she will help you do that on this site! Since I am already a member, I do not need any of these features, and I would just like to log in to my member account. My frustration as a user is caused by the poor visibility of the Member Sign In link. There are actually two links that are available on the home page for existing members – the “Members” tab at the top of the screen and the “Member Sign In” link at the top right, but both are shown in small fonts that are not easily noticeable upon first glance.

Once you find and click the “Member Sign In” button, you’re redirected to a simple “Member Online Services” log in page, which is where the site really gets frustrating.Horizon Blue Online Services The user is prompted to sign in with a Username and Password, and there are options for “Forgot Username” and “Forgot Password.” Being in generally good health, I don’t have cause to visit this site very often, and I can never seem to remember what my login information is. I know I should write down this information for the future, which Norman refers to as “External Memory,” since it’s almost impossible to remember so many different login combinations without some external assistance.

Horizon BlueThe first challenge is the Username field: there’s no suggestion as to whether this would be an email address, a self-created username, or an automated username. To assist the user, the designer should have used affordances such as suggested text.

I try the Username and Password combination that I most frequently use and hope that it works — denied. The site provides very poor feedback for the user. It states that “The username or password is incorrect,” so I am unsure if I am using the wrong username or the wrong password or both! I try a few more username/password combinations before giving up and deciding to reset my login.

Now for the next challenge: should I click “Forgot Username?” or “Forgot Password” if I’m not sure which one is incorrect? I choose the first option “Forgot Username” and see that it requires entering a Horizon Blue Member ID, which can only be found on the physical member card that is in my wallet, which is more effort than I’m willing to exert at this point. I backtrack and decide to try “Forgot Password” instead.Horizon Blue

The Forgot Password screen assumes that the user knows what his or her password is, so there are no affordances to help in that field. The page does offer suggested text in the “First Name” box to guide the user to write a full first name, rather than a nickname. This suggested text would be helpful if provided for all of the fields rather than just that box. After failing to enter the correct Username/First Name/Last Name/Email address combination, I ended up having to go back to the “Forgot Username” field anyway.

Horizon BlueThe Forgot Username page actually does a good job of telling the user where to look to find their Member ID on the insurance card, by showing an image of the card and highlighting the correct field in yellow. I pass the ‘captcha’ style security test, and then answer a personal security question before the page confirms that my username has been emailed to me.

When I finally receive my Username, I can then go back to the Forgot Password screen. Once I pass those barriers, I am sent a new automated password via email, which then must be updated when logging in. For the new password, the site requires it to be “Strong,” but gives no clues as to what makes a good password, so the user must do trial and error before finding an option that is approved by the system. Horizon Blue

All in all, just logging in to the HorizonBlue.com website took me about 15-20 minutes. To make this whole experience easier for the user, the designers should have provided better visibility of the member screen and better affordances to guide the user to enter the correct Username and Password. For users who have forgotten their login information, there should be just one screen, where the user can enter their Full Name, Email address, and answer security questions to be emailed their Username AND Password, instead of making this a separate, arduous experience.