Winning the Internet

What you can learn from the the Affordable Care Act web launch

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

imagesEven if you haven’t been in the market for insurance it’s been pretty much impossible to flip on your TV, radio or check in to your favorite spots online without hearing something about the problematic website launch. Why would we be adding more commentary to the pile here? Well, we don’t intend to actually.

But there is a really good piece which ran on TechPresident by the woman who successfully launched the CFPB website which was written in response to’s failure.

There are obviously some special and unique problems the launch of any government website faces. But there are a few smart lessons in this piece which can be applied to your own web project.

Probably the best piece of advice here is the one about starting small. We’ve often seen nonprofits pondering massive web projects which intend to wholly replace their site, including advanced functionality, in one phase. There’s a mountain of evidence in both the public and private sector demonstrating that simply doesn’t work.

Secondly, but no less important is the point about leadership and vision. If you’re working at an organization that has more than a few programs and multiple departments or levels of management then you’re going to have a lot of people with opinions on how things should be done and where focus should lie. So it’s really important to set your goals up front, make sure everyone is bought in to them, and then stick to them when the battles start.

Finally, this post points out: Make stuff simple. It may sound obvious, but make sure your site is easy to read, access and navigate.

So give this article a read and put aside some of the government specific pieces of it. Instead think about how some of these lessons can apply to that new website project your boss wants you to undertake and set yourself up for success.

About Raven Brooks

Executive director of Netroots Foundation and Netroots Nation.

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