I recently reviewed a Medicare Part D sales Web site targeted toward senior citizens and their caregivers. Wow, does it need help! (Sorry, won’t name names… We don’t want to embarrass anybody. But this is a real site by a big insurance company.)

Although it looks attractive, just about every best practice mistake in the book is made. This is a classic case of blunders that can happen when a Web project is developed in-house for the marketing department. The problem is a marketing team is now wandering around wondering why they don’t have any Web sales. Worse, the site is being held up by corporate execs as an example that “seniors don’t use the Web.”

We know that’s not true. We did a senior site which had over 100,000 enrollments the first year. So there must be something wrong. Let’s take a look.

To begin with, the site does not work well in Mozilla. I’d be curious about AOL. There is too much stuff on the Home page. And, there are no “Safe and Secure” icons on display, such as Verisign, Hackersafe, CMS approval date, etc.

I was frequently lost on the site. There were no breadcrumbs or tabs to tell me my location — and I’m a technology guy! Imagine a senior’s experience! Enrollment was difficult, especially since there were no prominently displayed Apply Now/Enroll Now buttons on every page. I wasn’t even sure where to start. And once I figured out where to go to enroll, exclusions and exceptions came up first. People don’t even know what they are getting and they’re being told what they won’t get. Geesh!

On the first page of the enrollment workflow, the Submit and Decline buttons are the exact same size and look, and positioned right next to each other. I almost clicked Decline by accident. And, there were no assurances about my personal information being kept safe and secure, or the validity of e-signature, a progress meter, or what to expect. To top it off, I put in a 1962 birth date, and it accepted my application! I really don’t think I qualify as a senior citizen yet…

The work flow, to put it mildly, was out of sync and very confusing. To make matters worse, the whole site loaded very slowly. One of the steps took me to a completely different page with a different look and feel. I can image a senior thinking, “What just happened? Did I break the Internet?” There were even some broken links within the site, too.

This is just a brief overview. I’m not a senior citizen, and I found the site difficult to navigate. No wonder Part D enrollments have been nil. As I’ve said before, Web development is not marketing. Unless your IT department is blessed with marketing and sales savvy, you are better off working with a Web development partner with proven expertise in both Web development and insurance marketing (hint hint).