How Fast Is… Healthcare.gov?
Our regular video series How Fast Is…? examines real world websites and details the cause of their performances issues as well as what should be done to solve them. After all, the best way to learn about front-end web performance is to see what other people are doing right and doing wrong. In this edition of How Fast Is…? we analyze Healthcare.gov’s Health Insurance Marketplace website.
The passing of the Affordable Care Act means that millions of people can apply for health insurance through websites like healthcare.gov. This creates a similar problem to Event or Ticketing websites: a giant online flood of traffic for a limited period of time. Previously I did a video on SeatWave.com where I also talked about the challenges of optimizing for this type of flash traffic.
Healthcare.gov is also more interesting to me than say, a news site. That’s because Signing up for health insurance is a multiple step process. Optimizations like caching, even for only a short time, are very impactful for websites with multi-step processes, since a visitor will be accessing a dozen pages or more in a single visit.
Finally, Healthcare.gov contains both very personal information, and general assets that apply to everyone. This blend of content types means that some things can be cached, but some things cannot be cached. It also means that SSL needs to be used, which opens the possibility to leverage SPDY to improve website performance.
This unique mix of requirements and use cases makes for a great case study in front-end web performance. I hope you enjoy our video How Fast Is… Healthcare.gov.