While the Republicans in Congress were busy shutting down National Parks and furloughing government workers in an ill-fated attempt to delay, defund or simply discredit the Affordable Care Act, the buggy launch of Healthcare.gov seem to be doing their work for them. Had freshman Senator Ted Cruz skipped his well-publicized filibuster, the American press would have been busy broadcasting the continuing failure of this government-funded website to deliver. And, now that the government is opened for business, the press is all over this story. Constant crashing. Endless waiting. And logins that don’t work.
So what can your business learn from the Obamacare website snafu? Plenty.
1) Effective Web Design and Programming takes time
As the autopsy is being done, all fingers point to the same thing. Not enough time. There were delays in the drafting the bidding parameters, delays in the awarding of contracts, delays in funding the work and delays in simply pulling the trigger. Websites––especially e-commerce sites––take time. Amazon wasn’t built in a day.
2) A successful “phased” rollout is better than a failed “full-blown” launch
Let’s play Monday morning quarterback. For instance, Healthcare.gov could have had a soft launch to simply allow people to set up accounts. Once accounts were set up, then a follow-up email could provide longer forms to collect the vital information. Then later, another phase could have been introduced to allow the site visitor to start shopping for plans. The White House was not interested in a phased approach. It was all or nothing. Bad idea.
3) User experience must be king
A major complaint about the Healthcare.gov site is the user experience is bad. For instance, when searching online for a mortgage, you don’t have to fill out a series of forms and provide iron-clad proof of your income before you shop for a rate. Mortgage calculators take you at your word on the front end and then hold your feet to the fire on the back end. Healthcare.gov requires the paperwork upfront before you see the pricing. This takes time and causes people to drop off. Just dumb.
4) You can’t have democracy in web development
Like the lady said: Too many cooks spoil the broth. With Healthcare.gov, too many separate web dev companies were awarded a piece of the action. Each company did its bit, but there was no one company in charge. This is a recipe for disaster.
5) Know your organization
The only thing government does fast is drop bombs. Everything else involves layers of bureaucratic apparatus that inevitably slow things down. If you are a shoot-from-the-hip, entrepreneurial company without a lot of layers, things can move quicker. If not, build in time for approvals and revisions. Have a deadline that fits your organization.
6) Servers are important
One of the biggest issues with the Obamacare site is not in the coding, it’s in the server size. Make sure your server is adequate. Be ready for peak times like nights and weekends. People are trying to log in to Healthcare.gov and they can’t. Not good. Make sure your site has enough bandwidth.
7) Do your analysis up front
Make sure your digital agency provides you with a thorough analysis of the marketplace, best practices in your category and of the proper sales funnel. A website is not simply an online brochure. It’s a conversion tool. Do your analysis up front not at the autoposy.
If you are in need of a new website or would like advice on how to make your current site a more effective lead generator, call us toll free at 866.642.7559. Make your next site launch a rousing success.