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Web 2.0 broke HealthCare dot Gov - Articles


Web 2.0 broke HealthCare dot Gov

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written by owen on 2013-Oct-23.

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As I sit here watching the American news about the problems with the healthcare_gov website, I noticed something. Something bigger than just a website not working for some random set of people. It seems that the website is fine, a bit heavy on the Javascript with fancy front end tools. The website is even mobile friendly, with a quick responding interface and is totally RestFul separating interface from data like a sky is separated from space with magnetic field. The website is perfect! So, what went wrong? It is doing everything it was designed to do and that web 2.0 enthusiasts said it should in order to provide the best web experience possible. Apparently web 2.0 killed a 93 million dollar website. Here is what seems IMHO to be the main problems:

Mobile responsive websites are only good for people on iphones

Why do you need a responsive website for mobile users when most of the people who are using the website are already on a computer and probably cannot afford a smartphone. And to make matters worse, why make a mobile responsive website for a smartphone that is powerful enough to display a full website perfectly? I tried to load up the website on a blackberry curve os5 and it showed up as a blank white page. Back in 2007 Steve Jobs brought a full webpage to mobile devices, he called it a revolution to bring the "real internet" to a cellphone.

Fancy javascript is only useful if it works

Now imagine, visiting a website and using internet explorer 6 and because the developer decided to jazz up his website, you end up with a blank page. What do you do then? cry or upgrade your browser? Of course you are going to complain that the website is not working. Even if you read the message that says "your browser sucks", no message or instruction is going to make you feel any better about the website. The user will NOT say; "hey, my web browser sucks, I am sorry that I am using this browser, and wish I was hip and smart enough to use another browser". What the user will actually say is "hey, this website sucks, I thought this was a fancy new website! why is it empty and why won't the links work? All the other websites work just fine".

Making hundreds of little pages is not always the best route

Now I understand the advantages of reducing latency, but at same time you have to realize that if 2 million people hit your web server 5 times per page and download 76 files - your server might crash; even before the users start to do any work. There is no need to have AJAX on a login page - just make a regular page. The registration page is 3 screens plus the login screen all on one webpage. Why would you need to load both these forms all at the same time? The cool switch transition between them is nice, but why should I click between them constantly?

The web has limits

Some would look at facebook/google and think that you can do anything on the internet; that the internet is an infinite resource like the sun or space or nuclear energy. The fact is, it is not. It is insane to launch a website to an entire population of practically 312 million people in one day and expect it to not die under the weight. I cannot even imagine how they tested a web interface to accommodate so many people of varying age groups and backgrounds; It is madness.

Pretty UX designs only impress technical people

Common users of the internet just want simplicity. Maybe also a button that says "login", "submit" or "save" and some links to information. They do not want an icon that looks like a magnifying glass that pops out of a hidden panel with a text box and some options, the less options you have the better. That "clicked" state on a button with rounded corner is only going to consume another 100k of the limited memory that the user has on their computer; its pointless. The pre-registration icon image on the first page of the website is 770 kb. It is almost as if the designer wanted to ensure that no one would complain about the compression artifacts in his images.


As a final test, I tried to load up the website in my trusty Netscape 7.2 browser. It loaded the heading, then promptly crashed. In a last attempt I reopened the NS browser and disabled Javascript (which u can't do in the new firefox). At this point I got the image in the screenshot attached to this article. In concluding; Nobody on CNN, CSPAN or Fox news is complaining that the website looks ugly or that it is not responsive. What they are complaining about is the fact that it does not work. And a website that does not work is no good to anybody.

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  1. <q>Now imagine, visiting a website and using internet explorer 6 and because the developer decided to jazz up his website,</q>

    But is this realistic? Especially with low numbers of people that use browsers like IE6, 7 etc?


    If someone is using such browsers, then they have their Microsoft Update turned off, and therefore have much bigger problems than Javascript/CSS3 compatibility.

    Some things should be deprecated, if just to make life easier. Web development should focus on IE8 and after.

    by Satanforce 2015-Nov-12 

  2. They will come up with all sorts of numbers but even chrome 5 is obsolete/deprecated. At the base the web should still be functional even if its just basic functionality for IE6 users.

    by owen 2015-Nov-12 



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