A Usability Study of the Obamacare Website: Evaluation and Recommendations

Venkatesh, V., Hoehle, H., and Aljafari, R. “A Usability Study of the Obamacare Website: Evaluation and Recommendations,” Government Information Quarterly (34:2), 2017, 199-210.  

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We conducted a usability study of the healthcare.gov website, popularly known as the Obamacare website, using the guidelines available on usability.gov, which were published by the Department of Health and Human Services. The study was conducted among 374 citizens.We found that the interface design,which we conceptualized as 16 dimensions,was rated rather low. Specifically, five dimensions of usability emerged as key to the prediction of overall usability of the website: hardware and software, home page, screen, scrolling and paging, and user experience. We also found that citizen satisfaction and intention to use the website were rated poorly. Based on a break down by gender, age and voting behavior (for Obama or not), we found several interesting patterns of differences. Ultimately, even if the infrastructure issues that have received a bulk of the media attention are miraculously resolved, our findings suggest that the site will be found wanting. The article offers specific illustrative examples of usability problems with the website and specific recommendations drawn from usability.gov. In addition to the practical implications for Obamacare, the article offers significant implications for researchers who seek to evaluate the usability of websites in general and healthcare websites in particular.
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