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Nov 11, 201312:19 PMIt's All About Content

with Thomas Marks

What small businesses can learn from the big mistakes of

(page 1 of 2)

Money can’t buy love, or so I’ve been told. But guess what, it can’t buy a functioning website either. Okay, we know the website doesn’t work, it’s a bad user experience — oh wait, there’s no user experience at all — and that in spite of there being thousands of websites around the world with more monthly traffic, this site can’t handle squat. So much for “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …”. You bet people are tired — tired from a poorly developed website and massively peeved.

So what can small and mid-sized businesses learn from this catastrophe? Probably the same thing Michael Bilandic, Chicago’s mayor in 1979, learned after 36 inches of snow fell and wasn’t removed for days on end. The big things will always be there for strife and conflict, but it’s the little things that will sink you. He lost to Jane Byrne because of a snowstorm — although in the case of the site, it’s more like a firestorm.

Look, technology is everything. It’s war and it’s peace. It’s transportation, education, commerce, labor, homeland security, agriculture, energy — you get the idea. If you don’t think a digital prophet is needed in the Cabinet, think again. It’s mind-boggling to think we can build a stealthy bomber or explore outer space, but the government can’t build a website. And not just this site. Nearly all of its sites lack the basics of good design, a favorable user experience, compelling content, and an actual information architecture that makes sense to people who don’t live 12 stories below the surface in Roswell, N.M.

Here’s what we can all learn. Don’t go into your next website redesign project thinking it needs to be a footrace. If you don’t allow enough time on the front end for research and discovery, and on the back end for usability testing and bug abatement, good luck. Don’t be a skinflint when it comes to making an investment in your website. Saving a few grand can cost you 10 times that — no, 100 times that — if it doesn’t function properly and shortcuts were the workaround. It’s happening right in front of your very eyes and fingertips. People get downright angry when a site doesn’t work. They pass judgment immediately, they tell others, your competitors pick up on it, and it spirals out of control.


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Nov 12, 2013 01:52 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Yep but the more serious problem is expecting a website to reach the people who need health care many of which are not on line and lack access. The result of the basic blindness in thsi society to how many people live.
And in this case they didn't even save money by doing it.

What is needed was more like the census - a lot of people knocking on doors in targt areas where there are a lot of people without health care.

The misinformation campaign also did not help- had a friend complaining that their health care cost double due to Obamacare. the insurance broker renewed their policy. They had too much income so they did not check the website (and probably couldn't access it at the time) I checked through the health sherpa site and found they could have gotten an equivalent policy at their current cost - no increase- but they were led to believe that if you earned over the limit you could not use the site . Not the only case I have heard like this - as the website malfunctioned a number of insurance sales people did November 1st or so take it or leave it offers.

Nov 12, 2013 02:56 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I agree with what I think you said in the first paragraph.

I think your second paragraph idea is well-intended, but extraordinarily expensive at a time that Congress is talking about downsizing all spending.

The third paragraph is not only gibberish but completely off the grid. So I am supposed to believe that you were just casually jawing with a buddy about health insurance, and you took down all of the details of their current policy, of course, and did an apples to apples comparison of a pre-Obamacare versus post-Obamacare policy? Really? And they are the same cost? Here are my real numbers: in Dane County a 27 year old male could get a $1,000 deductible policy with a prescription drug plan for $125 per month. Now it's $286 per month. Show me some facts

Nov 13, 2013 06:25 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I think you are right on with the web developing company not being capable of doing the job (and, frankly, I think the government should get its money back for a project not delivered to expectation. Fault lies on the company they hired. From what I've read, it's more bad code than site overload). Why, in a country that brought you, did we not go to Amazon or Microsoft or Apple to build the healthcare website in the first place?

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About This Blog

Thomas Marks brings years of marketing experience to his blog "It's All About Content" as the President and Managing Partner of TMA+Peritus.  Prior to starting the agency in 1983, Tom was the VP of Marketing and Advertising for Bally Corporation in Chicago. He was also President of Bally's multi-million dollar in-house ad agency FFC Advertising.

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