What Healthcare.gov Can Teach You About Tech Projects

Joseph Stubblebine
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The troubled launch of the government's healthcare website has been in the headlines numerous times, and this criticism in national publications hasn't helped improve the public perception of this already controversial topic. Problems with the healthcare website may have increased the negativity surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACT), but sales professionals can learn a lot from this type of failed launch.

Whether you're selling a cloud-hosted software product or you're launching a new website to sell all the products or services that your company offers, you need to have a solid plan in place before you begin the process. A detailed website plan should include a target launch date, but you also need to set incremental goals leading to that date. To do this, you need to work closely with your tech staff and your project management team to set a goal for each separate phase of the website—research, design, testing, and product launch. In addition to helping your team stay focused on the project, setting smaller goals helps you keep to a realistic time frame. If a problem occurs and you discover that you're in a time crunch, you can consider rolling your products out in phases instead of launching a full website all at once.

Your website design has a huge affect on your click through rate, which affects the number of products you sell online. Because of this, website design needs to be a top priority for your project management team. According to Barun Singh, founder and CTO of WegoWise.com, a utility-based intelligence platform, the government's healthcare website was just too complex, and complexity breeds problems. When you're developing your website design, keep the end user in mind. As a sales professional, you know it's important to communicate with your target market by choosing topics that appeal to them, but it's just as important to have a website design that's appealing and simplifies the buying process. For example, if your target market is people in their mid-30s juggling demanding careers and family life, they probably don't want to click through multiple website pages to purchase a product. So, instead of placing a "learn more" button next to a small thumbnail of your product, why not highlight the important product details and give the user the option to add the product to the shopping cart immediately? The government's healthcare website also required users to wait while it communicated with numerous third-party applications. Most people aren't patient enough for this, so if your product website needs to get information from other sources, you should discuss the option of using open-source software that can run from your own servers with your tech team.

If you're developing a website that will showcase your products and drive online sales it can be hard to keep the focus off the actual sales. As sales professional, it's your job to sell a product to consumers, but you can't let the sales process drive your entire development plan. While the website is in the development and testing process, it's important to spend time on social networking websites building up a buzz about your product launch. However, don't make promises that you can't keep. When the government's healthcare website was being developed politicians piled on promises of what the website would be able to do. According to an article on BrightBlog.com, the requirements were changed at least seven times in the months leading up to the launch, which left politicians with no idea of how the healthcare website would fulfill their promises.

Online sales can make or break a company's business. If you have a website that's unappealing or riddled with issues, you won't be able to gain your customers' trust, which will result in you losing sales. Learn from the issues that the government had with its healthcare website rollout and develop a robust plan, set achievable goals, and work with the end user in mind to develop a positive web presence.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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