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Sha Hwang, the Designer Hired to Make Obamacare a Beautiful Thing

How a data-viz superstar helped turn around healthcare.gov
Sha Hwang, the Designer Hired to Make Obamacare a Beautiful Thing
Ysa Perez for Bloomberg Businessweek

A little before midnight on Christmas Eve, Sha Hwang’s phone rang. It was Jini Kim, an ex-Google executive he’d met two years earlier. She’d joined President Obama’s “tech surge,” the frantic effort to fix healthcare.gov. By then, the site was an all-out debacle, and the White House had assigned U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park to sort it out. As one of his top lieutenants, Kim was actively recruiting coders and designers with flexible schedules and a sense of civic duty, or at least a willingness to come to Washington and work on a high-profile, if troubled, project.

Kim said the effort needed help. Specifically, it needed Hwang to make the site easier to use, so that Americans who wanted to buy health insurance through it wouldn’t get frustrated and give up.