Five Lessons That The Bungled Healthcare.Gov Rollout Teaches Us

Healthcare Website Down

You think it's time for your website to be upgraded and redesigned. But will the redesign work? Will it do the job you need done? Do you even know what it needs to do?

You may realize your current site is tired, but how do you know a redesign will launch without major failures or minor but irritating glitches? Will it be worth the cost and effort?

Ok, your new or redesigned website isn't meant to launch a complex new health care system that impacts millions of Americans, many of them trying to get on your site at the same time. It isn't designed by a disparate group of web development companies who charged you millions of dollars to design the perfect site, but your deadline didn't give them enough time to test it ahead of time to see if it actually works.

No, yours, by comparison, is a relatively simple business site, but it's still pretty complex as far as you can tell. And even if millions of your fellow citizens aren't anxious to get on the site, it would still be pretty disastrous to your company if anxious customers come to your new site only to find it didn't work.

How can you be sure that it will?

While there is a great difference in scale between and, the stakes are still pretty high as far as you're concerned. They're still pretty high as far as we're concerned, too.

So how do we collaborate to make a new or redesigned site work right from the launch date, and continue to work? What lessons can we learn from the Obamacare website rollout to avoid emergency treatment?

Set Realistic Expectations

This is important for both you and us at Blue Fire Media. Requiring a complex website and not giving the developers enough time to complete and test the job is a recipe for disaster. Just as disastrous are web developers who overpromise, claiming they can complete a job in two weeks when it really should take six months.

When we meet with clients, our initial discussions are meant to get a clear understanding of what the client needs the site to accomplish. From there, we analyze the client's goals and determine the amount of customized programming, graphic design and content we need to create. We then present the client with a realistic expectation of what it would take to accomplish the goals and how long it would take. The length of the project often depends on the client providing needed content information and reviewing drafts of the site in a timely manner before the website goes live.

Plan for Success

The most frustrating failure is when it occurs from being overwhelmed by success. When a website succeeds beyond your wildest dreams, you want to be sure it doesn't fail by exceeding anticipated traffic. In building a website, Blue Fire Media programmers aren't satisfied with good enough. We expect a new website to draw more visitors and increase usage for our clients, and we work to make sure the system can handle the load.

Test for Failures

It's not just traffic that concerns us. We have to check the site over carefully for usability, readability, broken links and any other factors that reduce a site's effectiveness. We carefully look at load time of images, run times of scripts and anything else that may slow down a site and convince a visitor to go elsewhere.

Design for current and new users

A redesign should attract new users to the site, but it shouldn't frustrate current users who've become used to navigating around the old site. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of experience, to develop a site that's simple for a new user to navigate, and easy for a current user to adjust to the changes.

Monitor site usage

Developing a new or redesigned website should never be a case of build it and forget it. Even in the best websites, outside factors can interrupt the smooth operations of a site and make it go down. That's why Blue Fire Media monitors your site and the servers that host it 24/7. Our automated system monitors your site, and if a problem persists for longer than a momentary glitch, the system gives us a call on a cell phone to tell us we have a problem. Right away, we work on fixing it. (See "We monitor your website 24/7...)

Now we don't like having a computer call us in the dead of night, so we work as hard as we can to make sure we don't have to get that call. But we'd much rather take that call than receive a call from you after you discover your site's been down for two days.

Ready to get started on an awesome new website?