Monday, October 14, 2013

Looking at the problems on the site

You may have heard the news about people in the U.S. experiencing problems trying to sign up for healthcare on the new site.  This site is perhaps the most visible manifestation of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."  On, users can search the "Health Insurance Marketplace" for coverage.  However, the site has been plagued by reports of slowness and poor user experience. 

Several online articles attempt to surmise what is going wrong with the site from a technical perspective.  Regardless of your personal views on the Affordable Care Act, I think these are relevant for us to read because they provide us a chance to avoid making the same (apparent) technical mistakes in our projects.  I'd like to highlight some general points that I have read so far:

  • Load test both the interface _and_ the back end functionality. 
  • User experience (UX) should not be an afterthought
  • Poor validation logic (eg requiring numbers as part of username/password but not informing user of this beforehand or in error messages) leads to extremely poor UX

For more on the technical issues with, see the following articles:

And here is a contrarian opinion, stating that the architecture of is sound, but that the project was rushed: