– What Is Really Going Wrong?

At this point, you have probably heard about the massive glitches on the new Healthcare Marketplace website for the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare). The glitches have resulted in the website loading slowly (sometimes not loading at all), displaying inaccurate results for users, and not allowing new signups to be properly processed. These issues were foreseen by the tech industry before the website ever rolled out, mainly because of the process used to plan / build the site being overseen by a committee instead of experts. Here at Boston Web Group, we watched closely as the rollout occurred to see what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what could have been different to make it smoother.

The biggest mistake we have seen so far (and one we are all too familiar with) is the design changes that were agreed upon towards the end of the project. These changes overhauled the original design for arbitrary reasons and caused many of the glitches seen in the system, because re-testing was unable to be completed due to time constraints. Not only was the design an issue, but the foundation the website was built upon was also weak for several reasons. Media Temple (a web hosting company) reviewed much of the website code and found that it did not utilize any caching (a technique that makes pages load faster by not re-generating the page every time a visitor comes to it) and it was not at all optimized (there was code within the website that was not even being used).

Together, these issues plagued the system to work coming out of the gate, and it will require some major surgery to fix many of the issues. It goes to show the importance of project scope and management in websites, and exactly what the result is when these are ignored to make changes on the fly, even aesthetic ones.