What Businesses Can Learn from the Obamacare Site Disaster

For any business, rolling out a major event over the web can be tricky. When a large number of people flood the same website at the same time, servers can easily become overloaded, causing slow load times and frustrating crashes. One bad experience usually teaches a business to try to spread the traffic out, if possible. If not possible, extensive testing for weeks prior to the big day is an absolute must.

As the news coverage of the Obamacare website issues has revealed, even the slightest flaws in a server setup can cause widespread embarrassment. Millions of people headed straight to Healthcare.gov last week on the first day of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, taxing the system and exposing every vulnerability.

Whether a website is designed to allow taxpayers to sign up for a new healthcare plan or to sell gift baskets at a special discount on Cyber Monday, a sudden influx of visitors can cause even the most robust system to crash. Whether your website is handled by a Cloud Hosting provider or your own IT department, here are a few steps you should take before the big day arrives.

Choose the Right Provider

When choosing a website hosting service, make sure your service advertises “automatic scaling.” Scalability means your service will grow as your site does, expanding to accommodate the sudden surge in traffic. Alert your provider to the expected surge so that the experts can ensure you have the resources to handle the crowds.

Conduct User Testing

Prior to the big event, conduct extensive testing outside of your company firewalls, using a variety of devices. Can a consumer shop on a smartphone and tablet? Do your form fields display properly across all browser types (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome) and versions?

Use a Software Tool

Load testing software and website speed tests can provide, in a few clicks, the same information you’d gain from days of manual testing. But don’t skip the real user experience testing, as well. When used in combination, these three steps can ensure your website capably handles your highest traffic days.