CUA of the Month – September, 2008

Linda Anderson
"The principles of usability helped me to differentiate between a personal and professional opinion during my first big project at CareFirst – the redesign of our primary site, – and it gave me a foundation for credibility when making decisions with our developers."
Linda Anderson
Manager of Electronic Communications
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

Putting Users First at

by Christine Schrum

There's only one audience that's tougher to design for than today's savvy Web users: people at the opposite end of the spectrum. Just ask Linda Anderson, who recently oversaw the redesign of the Medi-CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) website (,which offers Medicare-related insurance plans.

"We're talking about your least web-savvy audience trying to navigate a potentially confusing website," says Linda. "Let's just say it was a challenge."

But Linda likes a good challenge. And she loves making complex healthcare information easy to access and understand for users of all abilities. That's why she's Manager of Electronic Communications at CareFirst.

CareFirst is the largest healthcare insurer in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving more than 3.2 million members in Maryland, the District of Columbia and parts of Northern Virginia. The corporate business entity set up to manage Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (a.k.a. Part D plans), Medi-CareFirst has regularly been honored with Brand Excellence awards from the national BlueCross BlueShield Association.

In 2005, Linda managed the execution of the original Medi-CareFirst website, which was created for the sole purpose of offering Part D to the disabled and people age 65 and older. Working closely with Human Factors International's (HFI) usability experts, Linda's team designed a successful site that met users' needs.

It was straightforward enough, but three years later, CareFirst decided to expand the site's offerings, adding other Medicare-related insurance plans to their site. To make matters more complex, designers had to keep in mind several different user groups:

  • a target audience of people aged 65 and up, along with a smaller group of disabled users
  • a secondary audience made up of children of seniors or parents of the disabled
  • a third audience comprised of social services workers or other agencies that assist seniors or disabled in selecting drug and health insurance plans.

"Once we determined we were no longer selling just Part D to one target audience," says Linda, "we worked extensively with HFI to do usability testing and conceptual research before we launched anything."

Linda and CareFirst have a long history with HFI.

After implementing the University of Maryland Medical Center's website in the late '90s, Linda was hired by CareFirst to oversee the insurance company's websites.

"At that time, there wasn't a lot of usability training available. You were going on what you had learned from the print world, what looked good there. We were still basing websites on brochures."

Wanting both to expand her own skill set and insure that delivered an excellent user experience, Linda researched the available options and discovered the HFI usability certification program.

"It was just what we were looking for," she recalls. "The principles of usability helped me to differentiate between a personal and professional opinion during my first big project at CareFirst – the redesign of our primary site, – and it gave me a foundation for credibility when making decisions with our developers."

Linda went on to take HFI's usability training, then used it as a springboard to bring the rest of web communications team members into the usability fold. "Since that time," she says, "everyone who has worked in our Web content department has been required to take HFI's usability training and pass the CUA exam. Additionally, our IT department now has a CUA who is constantly on the look out for usability problems early in the development process."

After collaborating with HFI for usability testing on both the CareFirst site and the original Medi-CareFirst site, Linda had a lot of relevant user data on her hands to apply to the subsequent, more challenging redesign of the Medi-CareFirst site.

"We just kind of fast forwarded and said, 'OK, here's what we know up front'," she says. "Then, after reviewing the research and juggling around different ideas, we decided to set up the homepage with three distinct tracks that would take the main users down clear, developed paths." They also added top navigation links for members and visitors, employers and benefit managers, brokers and agents, and providers and physicians.

"We tested those concepts and revised based on the testing. Then we tested again after those revisions," says Linda with a laugh. "Web developers have a level of computer sophistication that is not consistent with the average user. What's easy and obvious for us isn't necessarily going to be intuitive for grandma."

The new Medi-CareFirst site has only been live a few months, but so far, things seem to be running without a hitch. According to Linda, people are accomplishing tasks well in the guided approach, and she hasn't heard a peep from the "I Couldn't Find What I Needed" email feed that runs from the site to her inbox.

And in Linda's line of business, if people were having trouble with the site, she'd hear about it immediately.

"Online health insurance information is basically 'just-in-time information'," she says. "No one gets their health insurance info and reads the booklet end-to-end right away. When people come to our site, they're usually sick and/or trying to get quick information on a claim. They need to get in, get what they need, and get out quickly."

Linda says her CUA training equipped her with the usability skill set and confidence she needs to deliver streamlined website design and stay ahead in her career.

"When your site launches, you can't point the finger to any consultant if your users aren't satisfied," she says, "HFI's training is extremely important. It's crucial to have a strong understanding of the usability methodologies and how your users approach the Web from day one."

Of course, it goes without saying: what's good for Linda's career is even better for Medi-CareFirst and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

"Brand image equals user experience," she says. "More and more organizations realize the Web's influence on their corporate image, and those of us who are supporting the online user experience need to be educated in the components that comprise that experience. Online image is the future of brand image."

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

Privacy policy

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation ("HFI") collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a "User") of its website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the "Website"). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.


HFI may use "cookies" or "web beacons" to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users’ PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.


HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.

HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.

In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or "dummy" test data.

The Information HFI Collects

Users browsing the Website without registering an account or affirmatively providing personally identifiable information to HFI do so anonymously. Otherwise, HFI may collect personally identifiable information from Users in a variety of ways. Personally identifiable information may include, without limitation, (i)contact data (such as a User’s name, mailing and e-mail addresses, and phone number); (ii)demographic data (such as a User’s zip code, age and income); (iii) financial information collected to process purchases made from HFI via the Website or otherwise (such as credit card, debit card or other payment information); (iv) other information requested during the account registration process; and (v) other information requested by our service vendors in order to provide their services. If a User communicates with HFI by e-mail or otherwise, posts messages to any forums, completes online forms, surveys or entries or otherwise interacts with or uses the features on the Website, any information provided in such communications may be collected by HFI. HFI may also collect information about how Users use the Website, for example, by tracking the number of unique views received by the pages of the Website, or the domains and IP addresses from which Users originate. While not all of the information that HFI collects from Users is personally identifiable, it may be associated with personally identifiable information that Users provide HFI through the Website or otherwise. HFI may provide ways that the User can opt out of receiving certain information from HFI. If the User opts out of certain services, User information may still be collected for those services to which the User elects to subscribe. For those elected services, this Privacy Policy will apply.

How HFI Uses Information

HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.

Disclosure of Information

HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI’s legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.

Personal Information as Provided by User

If a User includes such User’s personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User’s personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.

Security of Information

Information about Users that is maintained on HFI’s systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.

Correcting, Updating, Accessing or Removing Personal Information

If a User’s personally identifiable information changes, or if a User no longer desires to receive non-account specific information from HFI, HFI will endeavor to provide a way to correct, update and/or remove that User’s previously-provided personal data. This can be done by emailing a request to HFI at Additionally, you may request access to the personally identifiable information as collected by HFI by sending a request to HFI as set forth above. Please note that in certain circumstances, HFI may not be able to completely remove a User’s information from its systems. For example, HFI may retain a User’s personal information for legitimate business purposes, if it may be necessary to prevent fraud or future abuse, for account recovery purposes, if required by law or as retained in HFI’s data backup systems or cached or archived pages. All retained personally identifiable information will continue to be subject to the terms of the Privacy Policy to which the User has previously agreed.

Contacting HFI

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Policy, you may contact HFI via any of the following methods:
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PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
(800) 242-4480

Terms and Conditions for Public Training Courses

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.

Cancellation of Course by Participants (All regions except India)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (India)

4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (Online Courses)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date. No cancellations or refunds less than two weeks prior to the first course start date.

Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‘per module’ processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.

No Recording Permitted

There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.

Course Materials Copyright

The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.