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Agile Computing: Article

Diagnosing Obamacare Website Performance Issues with APM Tools

Why websites that need to scale for that many users don’t deliver on the promise of good end-user experience

Most of my friends in the US are looking forward to the new Healthcare website that allows them to select the health insurance that best suits their needs. As with any new website that has been anticipated by a lot of people, it was not a big surprise that there were glitches when millions of US citizens tried to use the new portal after its launch.

Now - there are many different reasons why websites that need to scale for that many users don't deliver on the promise of good end-user experience. A general "cultural" problem is that performance and scalability are pushed towards the end in favor of more functionality resulting in problems that don't allow the end user to consume these great features. Changing this culture with the support of tools that integrate in your continuous delivery process is mandatory to avoid these types of problems. We have blogged about this in the past based on discussions we had with companies that made that transitions.

Let's put the spotlight back on Obamacare: unfortunately we can't look behind the scenes - but - we can do a quick 101 session on Web Performance Analysis and Optimization using our free available tools and highlight the top problem patterns that are responsible for the bad user experience reported by users and heavily discussed in the US and also global media.

The Analysis
One of my US colleagues walked through different use case scenarios on healthcare.gov and sent me his AJAX Edition session files for analysis. Here is an overview that shows that most pages lack basic WPO (Web Performance Optimization) aspects:

Bad WPO ranking on most pages and lacking behind the TOP US healthcare sites

Please click here to have a closer look at four specific observations and highlights of the key observations from these sessions:

Observation #1: Homepage impacted by Initial HTML and Third-Party Content

Observation #2: NO CSS and JS Merging on Registration Page

Observation #3: Server-Side issues with AJAX calls on Profile Page

Observation #4: Heavy JavaScript Processing by Backbone, Underscore ... JS Libraries

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has been helping companies improve their application performance for 15+ years. He is a regular contributor within Web Performance and DevOps communities and a prolific speaker at user groups and conferences around the world. Reach him at @grabnerandi

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