I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty fed up with this game of political Ping-Pong about the less-than-stellar opening of healthcare.gov, the online marketplace for the Affordable Care Act.
Fortunately for Bikini Marketers, there’s at least one good thing coming out of the debacle known as the online health insurance marketplace: you now know how NOT to launch a website.
Read on for the unintentional lessons provided by the healthcare.gov snafu.
Test, Test Test…Did I Mention Test?
More than three weeks after the Healthcare marketplace launched, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that the website needed five years to build and one year to test.
Instead, web designers got about three years to build and roughly five days to test, according to Forbes.
No wonder there are so many problems. The simple truth is you can’t leave such a huge project, like a website that represents your company, to chance. Even web designers with plenty of time to complete a project make mistakes.
When you’re establishing the project’s timeline, make sure to include ample time for testing at each stage. It’s also a good idea to allow some cushion time in case you have to make some changes.
Aside from testing the nitty-gritty aspects such as usability, you can test how well focus groups respond to features like images, colors and fonts. This is especially important for companies that do a large portion of their business online (like the healthcare marketplace).
It’s also crucial to test your website on computers, tablets and smartphones. Building a really strong website is pointless if you can only use it on one device.
Regardless of your industry, you MUST test your website early and often.
Like any other project, designing a new website usually begins with a strict timeline. Falling behind schedule is definitely frustrating, but there are times when you have to accept that your original launch date is unreasonable.
Trying to speed up the process to get back on track will only make matters worse. Unfortunately, the White House made it clear that healthcare.gov would open Oct. 1, so they really had no choice to delay its launch. You have an advantage because your clients won’t know you’re designing a new website unless you tell them.
This being said, don’t rush to avoid pushing back your launch date. Putting out an error-proof website a few weeks later than planned is much better than launching it on your schedule and having the public catch your errors.
Listen to Feedback
Finally, it’s important for you to listen to what your clients are saying about your new website. Let’s say you include a killer infographic that you spent a week designing. You think it looks great and adds character, but user reviews say it’s clunky and takes too long to load on their screen. As painful as it can be, you need to cut it.
Building a website is no easy task, but it’s something every content marketer must understand. Following a few basic steps will help you build a stronger, more reliable website and avoid any embarrassments.
Great article and excellent way to pick up on a timely topic! Now if only Obama’s administration had read this before they launched the site (which STILL doesn’t work for me….)