Get All Access for $5/mo

3 Website-Building Lessons From the Debacle Some of the many mistakes made in debuting and how you can avoid them.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The federal government's disastrous launch of is an embarrassingly perfect example of basically everything you shouldn't do when going live with a website for the first time.

From crashed servers to security snafus, to dozens of bugs and tortoise-like load times, there isn't much the White House didn't screw up. Seriously. Only six people managed to sign up for health insurance on the site's rocky launch day. Not good.

Here are three fails and how you can avoid making them when launching your company's website:

Related: How to Get Your Startup's Technology Up and Running Today

1. Fail: Not preparing for an initial rush of website traffic.
Millions of people flooded on its first day and many of them were met with disappointing messages like, "please try again later" and "please wait" instead of "apply now." A lack of enough server capacity to handle the onslaught of traffic, combined with error-ridden software code, were mainly to blame.

Solution: Beef up server bandwidth to handle the load.
The more website traffic you anticipate, the more server capacity you should load up on. If you're hosting your own site, start by calculating some estimates of how many people might drop by your website on Day One. CSG Computer Support Group, Inc. offers a basic Server Bandwidth Requirement Calculator to help small businesses determine the web server bandwidth they'll need.

Also estimate how many people will try to do the same thing on your site at the same time and prepare accordingly, Jyoti Bansal, founder of AppDynamics, recently told the Washington Post.

Once your site is up and attracting a steady number of visitors, you might need to scale up with additional web servers. Several popular website cloud hosting services, like Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure automatically scale to meet your website traffic needs.

Related: How a Content Audit Can Turn Your Site Into a Publishing Powerhouse

2. Fail: Exposing users' identifying personal and financial information to security risks.
On Sept. 27, four days before the federal exchange's launch, Department of Health and Human Services officials were warned of the site's "inherent security risks." Users' birth dates, Social Security numbers and more were low-hanging fruit for identity thieves.

Solution: Complete a thorough security risk assessment.
Hire a small business cybersecurity specialist to run a risk assessment within 60 to 90 days of going live. Create and strictly abide by security standards, paying special attention to how you collect, store and perhaps even share your users' personal and financial data.

An easier option is to host your online store through a third-party ecommerce service that uses Secure Socket Layer encryption, like Yahoo Small Business. Such vendors handle most aspects of your site's security, from online payments to customer information and beyond.

3. Fail: Not testing site navigation and functionality.
One of the biggest reasons bombed out of the gate is that people couldn't use it for what it was supposedly designed to help them do: shop and sign up for health insurance plans. Software glitches, sluggish servers and muddled site structure were mainly to blame. As a result, in the federal exchange's first week, only 1 percent of the 3.7 million people who tried to register were successful, according to the nonpartisan research firm Millward Brown Digital.

Solution: Exhaustively test your website before going live.
Hire a usability testing company to sniff out your site's weak spots and then improve each one. This critical pre-launch step helps you weed out bum software code and better understand your audience, particularly whether or not they find it easy to get around and use your site.

There are several reliable usability testing services that are relatively inexpensive, including Their pricing for small businesses starts at $49 per usability test by a real person. A similar service is Userlytics, which charges $39 to $99 per month, depending on the amount and depth of testing and feedback.

Related: 3 Web Design Building Blocks Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper,, and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

Remote Employee Fired for 'Low Keystroke Activity' During Working Hours After 18 Years of Employment

The Australian woman is claiming she was wrongfully terminated and surveilled.

Side Hustle

Top Secrets to Starting a 6-Figure Etsy Side Hustle That Earns Passive Income, According to 3 People Who Did It

Etsy remains a popular ecommerce platfrom for sellers — and can be incredibly lucrative for those who know how to use it.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Making a Change

Invest in a Lifetime of Learning for $100

Skill Success features a wide variety of e-learning courses on business, finance, and more.

Business News

Amazon Is Thinking About Charging Extra for AI Alexa

"Hey Alexa, how much are you going to cost?"

Thought Leaders

10 Simple, Productive Activities You Can Do When You Aren't Motivated to Work

Quick note: This article is birthed out of the urge to do something productive when I am not in a working mood. It can also inspire you on simple yet productive things to do when you're not motivated to work.