Creating and Maintaining a Glitch-Free Website

With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act—more commonly known as Obamacare—the public is finally getting a first glimpse on how the health insurance program will work. Unfortunately that glimpse let much to be desired, thanks to numerous glitches in the online system which left those ready to sign up bewildered and more than a little frustrated. And for opponents of Obamacare, the problems gave them infinite fuel to continue the battle in overturning the contentious legislation.

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Whereas your company may not have the massive scope of the ACA website, bugs and glitches can damage your business and reputation nonetheless, especially if you’ve gone the do-it-yourself route rather than hire a website design specialist. So how do you make sure visitors and users to your site are getting the best possible and glitch-free experience?

  • First be sure to differentiate between a “bug” and a “glitch.” A bug is an error or failure within a program, and it’s usually a result of bad source code. A glitch, however, may be merely a short-term fault that corrects itself automatically and can therefore be much harder to diagnose.
  • Avoid overly-complicated designs. Cramming too much onto your site can slow down loading time and create “freezes” to visitors, who may become frustrated and not return to your site.
  • Don’t overuse Flash Player, which increases load time and can create crashes, especially for visitors who may be using older browsers or slower computers. We recommend avoiding it altogether to maintain cross-platform compatibility with mobile devices.
  • When editing your page, be sure you’re working on the right page and that you upload the changed file to the server. It may seem like a no-brainer, but often webmasters get so involved with making changes that they forget to apply them, and visitors encounter the same problems over and over.
  • Write “clean” HTML code. Run HTML Toolbox over your page often to ensure you don’t have coding errors. If the code is clean, then the problem may be with CSS or JavaScript. Review them with a NetMechanic site.
  • When you find an error and fix it, be sure you don’t create new errors in the process. Many web design programs offer free trial versions that will detect errors but won’t repair them, and too many amateur designers make things worse in the process. Tackle just ONE error at a time and keep track of every fix.
  • Don’t underestimate server-side issues. If you’re running a dynamic website with database queries (think shopping cart software) you may be forced to design online, and you can’t test the pages before uploading them to the server. Therefore, this is the time to be hyper-vigilant about mistakes.

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