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The website mistake heard around the country., the official website of Obama’s healthcare reform program, launched on October 1st but all did not go as planned. Long delays, lost data and frequent crashes caused frustrations for both users and administrative officials involved in the site.

Despite being quoted as having “no excuse” for the problems, site administrators offered a host of excuses for why the site launch failed, such as massive demand, excess software codes that had no real purpose, as well as “snafus” with javascript, CSS files and HTML tags.

Users attempting to access the site with no luck were reassured that while the site did not currently work, it was still highly secure. Administrators offered tips to help navigate the issue, including clearing your cache, waiting until the server is not busy, and opening links in new windows.

Ten Tips for an Effective Website Launch

Given our background in web design and development, we can’t help but take special interest to all of the hype surrounding the Obamacare website launch. Given the knowledge of what went wrong, and our own personal experience in the field, we developed Ten Tips to avoid pitfalls when working on a website project:

  1. Start with the End in Mind: When first developing your website, think of the final product you will need to have and the steps you’ll have to take in order to create your final vision. For example, think of whom your target user of the site is going to be, and the steps they will use to come to your site.
  2. Create a Flow Chart: Mapping out the site’s information architecture and navigation system will help determine what features need to be incorporated on the site.
  3. Less is More: Think Apple. Websites with excess images and text can easily become difficult to navigate. At Burst, we stand by the old rule of KISS: keep it simple stupid.
  4. Z Pattern: Studies have shown that when reading online, our eyes tend to follow a Z pattern, starting at the top left of the page and reading across to the right, then to the bottom left, and again across to the bottom right. Keep this pattern in mind when designing the layout of your site’s logos, text, and graphics.
  5. Focus Groups & User Groups: Prior to the site launch, recruit unbiased people to test the site functionality and navigation, and also receive vital feedback.
  6. Hosting Best Practices: Load testing is vitally important to make sure the site will hold up against high traffic volume, a key step missed in the launch.
  7. Testing, Testing, 1 2 3: No matter what the site, rigorous QA and testing should be done before releasing your site to the public. Sample tests include browser tests to ensure the site is compatible across all platforms.
  8. Avoid Proprietary Software: Use content management systems that are safe, secure, and trustworthy. What will happen to your site if the software you’re using fails?
  9. Don’t Forget the Role of SEO: Make sure you install Google Analytics or another web analytics tool before launching.  Otherwise, you’ll have no data on how the site is doing.
  10. Maintain and Coordinate: When launching a new site, make sure all of your old links are automatically redirected to the new pages on your site.

If you’re considering a new website redesign, or are just about go to live with your own site, make sure you don’t become the next Obamacare site. Follow these tips to avoid the potential pitfalls of your website launch, or find an experienced partner to help ensure your launch is a huge success.