Web Development | 10.21.13
With the recent upset over the new (and troubled) Healthcare.gov website, everyone including President Obama himself is wondering what in the world is wrong with the new Obamacare site?
The rickety and fluctuating functionality of the site was originally speculated as simply a result of the high volume of new applicants visiting the site within the first week of its launch.
However, a growing consensus of both website developers and IT experts have confirmed the true reason: poor website design. So, what can you do to avoid a disaster like this? Here are three main components a website should have to make it a winner on the web:
1. A Solid Framework
One of the main reasons that has created such a nightmare for the new site is the Obama Administration’s last-minute decision to place a “create account” login on the site just weeks before the site’s launch. Unlike most other e-commerce websites, this restricted new visitors from “window shopping” first before making any kind of decision to purchase.
Take the time to work through processes and infrastructure on your site with your web designer and developer before any coding starts. This definitely takes a bit of time, but makes the job so much easier for you and your developer later down the road. Changes once the design is set in place requires your developer to go back and “recode,” which could further delay a site’s launch. Think about how a typical visitor would read and interact with you, your products and services, and how you can reach your own marketing goals. Don’t be afraid to test scenarios during the draft or mock up phase as this is where all changes can easily be made.
2. A Clean Back End
It’s hard to forget sometimes that the back end is just as important as the front end of any website, even on the best-looking one. Lev Lesokin of Cast Software, a company that advises 250 businesses worldwide on website efficiency, says that the new healthcare website “is slowing down because it transmits 10 more times more computer code than necessary”.
CNN reports that web-hosting company, Media Temple, discovered that designers for the healthcare site failed to follow basic protocols for the high traffic site. Strands of stray code that served no purpose were found and web-efficiency techniques weren’t implemented, such as saving certain parts that were not expected to change frequently.
Have your website services provider take a look at your new or current site consistently. Ongoing updates to content management systems and plugins should be addressed as well as any bugs, broken links or browser incompatibilities. Monthly website edits are typical for keeping websites updated and working and tip-top form. Be sure your web hosting service provides enough storage for all your data, as well as back up options just in case there’s an instance of corruption or data loss.
3. A Thorough Testing Phase
The Washington Examiner reported that federal officials did not allow the federal website to be tested until a week before the site’s Oct. 1 launch. Due to the amount of data from the 16 state-run marketplaces that interact with the portal, the website should’ve had a 4-6 month testing period to fix, tune, or tweak any glitches, not 4-6 days.
The amount of time for testing depends on the size of the website. Of course, the more pages a website has, the more time it’ll take to test, but for a website that’s about 50 pages long, it typically takes about 2-3 weeks to test accessibility, browser compatibility, screen resolution, all forms validation, link action, and mobile testing.
Overall, your website should be your foundation for visitors and customers to load and learn more about your products and services and should be focused on the target consumer. User-friendliness, focal points, and good content should be given features in any notable website design. However, attention should be paid to the structure and back end of the site as well, which many times is ignored. There’s no word on when the new healthcare site is set to fix all of its technical glitches, but by following these three basic standards on your website, you could avoid website trouble altogether.
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