The Vox – Defining Brand Values & UX Design
Bloomberg Businessweek put it best in its article about the health-insurance exchange launch, “It was like a typical tech launch.” The only difference was this was a very public failure that infuriated nearly 3.7 million users who need this product to work.
As the Government rushes to make fixes and Congress drudges through hearings to better understand the cause of this, many wonder how this could affect the legacy of the Obama administration. Perhaps the bigger question is how can a bad user experience (UX) like this affect the greater brand, product, person or organization.
First, let us define ‘brand values’. They are the desired set of experiences, associations or emotions an organization wants customers to have with its products, services or identity. Why is this so
important? If you have two companies making a similar product, creating a user experience that is appropriate to the target audience and business goals reinforces customers’ brand experience.
When it goes well, we have success stories like Apple. For over ten years, it has done a phenomenal job communicating its values through many of its customer touchpoints. Its emphasis on the end-to-end user experience for most of its products has not gone unnoticed resulting in unprecedented brand allegiance.
If UX has not been given its due diligence, then we have the above mentioned Healthcare.gov and all of its woes. While at this point we can guess the effects on the Obama brand, but for sure damage has already been done.
So, what are the takeaways?
By using Healthcare.gov as a template, there are two big points we can learn.
1. Get the message right. Comparing your product and experience to something that it is not does the product and the potential users a disservice. Finding the right insurance plan is not the same as buying an airline ticket or ebook. It is monumentally more complicated. This does not mean it can not be more enjoyable. A great example is TurboTax which made doing annual taxes infinitely easier.
2. Understand how the technology will work and test it. I agree with the overall reaction to the organization and visual design of the site. Healthcare.gov does not look like a typical Government site. So, time was spent to create an up-to-date visual experience. However, the ‘bugs’ and ‘glitches’ as summed up by John Stewart, could have been figured out before going live. Thinking out scenarios to design and develop takes time and money. Nonetheless, doing this early is a lot cheaper than letting users find the mistakes and trying to repair the damage to the product or brand.
All the work to prop up the product gets chipped away by bad UX.
In the end, mistakes like these have sunk product launches and even brands. However, in the case of the health-insurance exchange there’s more at stake. The users who are counting on this to succeed will suffer because they were not made a priority.