Obamacare’s website problems have dominated the headlines for some time now and for a number of reasons. No matter the party affiliation, millions Americans have been affected by the Affordable Care Act. If you’re one of the citizens that needed to visit the Obamacare website, you will have likely experienced what millions have already been complaining about. Visitors have been met with a confusing site structure, slow loading pages and frustrating errors in addition to site outages. All issues that could have been avoided and bring to light the need for proper website usability consideration.
Does your site suffer from usability issues that are costing you money? Read on to learn more.
The Obamacare site forces new visitors to register before they can get access to eligibility and pricing. Naturally, this causes a bottleneck in the process as people’s expectations were that they could just come to the site to get information. Now that you have to register, it causes hesitation. In this instance, you don’t have much of a choice. However, think about it in terms of your site.
A common mistake I see websites make is to ask for an email immediately when the site loads. This is a conversion killer as most people get there and want more information but don’t want to immediately give their info away. I’ve run tests on this for clients in the past. It’s not a theory, it’s fact. This method lowers conversion. Instead, focus on creating great content that people fine useful and properly ask them to sign up for your newsletter to get more great content. I offer exclusive content to my email subscribers which provides an added benefit. Don’t create unnecessary road blocks.
Poor Menu Structure
One complaint about the site is that it was confusing to navigate. Healthcare is complicated as is, but when you’re forced into a situation where your policy has been cancelled and you now have to get insurance from Obamacare, it can be a sensitive issue. Apparently, the site was not constructed in the most user friendly fashion and visitors have had trouble getting the information they need and were looking for.
What can we take from this? Simple navigation can make the difference between a brief site visit and an engaged visitor. We spend a great deal of time, effort and sometimes money to attract visitors to our websites. Once they get there, based on information they saw, you need to make it easy to find that information in case they don’t land on that particular page. This means a good menu structure that clearly organizes the content, a footer menu as a backup to show the pages available and descriptive menu items. You can additionally use breadcrumbs which have a dual impact: helps with navigation and provides an SEO benefit. Does your site have navigation issues? A quick audit can make that determination.
Slow Load Times
Nothing frustrates users more than slow load times. In the case of the Obamacare website, this is very much an issue of too much too fast and not enough preparation. The site launched Oct 1st and have over 14M unique visitors in the first 10 days! That’s enough to overwhelm most websites. The question is, why the developers didn’t anticipate this and buy enough server space to handle the capacity. As a result, the site experienced very slow load times and frequent outages.
In your world, slow load time has a dual impact. On the one hand, users that experience slow load times are likely to hit the back button and find a competitor’s site. Behind the scenes, Google is looking at site load times as part of their SEO evaluation of your domain. Consistently show slow load times and they will penalize you. In both cases, it’s about user experience. We need to strive to create the best user experience possible and a slow site is no fun for anyone.
Errors, Outages and Lack of Best Practices
The Obamacare site has been plagued with errors and outages due to its lack of planning and use of best practices. This experience highlights a broader issue that major websites are not keeping up with advances in technology. The Obamacare site is not the only one out there with the same, slow experience. In any case, they have brought in a team from the private sector and according to reports by CNN, the site will be taken offline nightly to fix the issues.
While this is a necessary solution and one that the Obamacare site can afford to get away with, it’s not that simple for you or I. We’ve got one shot to get the attention of the visitor and keep it. If our site goes down, we lose money. If it throws an error, we lose money. It’s crucial to follow best practices. Often, they are developed over time and look at a wide range of industries and applications. Why not take advantage of the research of others? As long as you’re focused on creating the best user experience possible, you’re on the right track.
Has your site been audited by a professional?
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Yours in success,
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