Poor Website Architecture Strikes Again: Empower Illinois

Poor website architecture and performance planning has struck again, this time leaving 24,000 families in the state of Illinois disappointed and burdened by the crash of the Empower Illinois scholarship tax credit site. As of today, there is no clear timeline to when the applications will be available again. This failure is inexcusable, not just for its negative public impacts, or the fact that we have seen these failures play out before (think Healthcare.gov), but because these are solved problems that could be avoided with the right expertise and planning.

Information and systems infrastructure isn’t as complicated as putting a Tesla in space, but it does take a level of expertise to implement properly. Developing a scalable infrastructure is critical for web applications when the demand is unknown yet, logically, will be high.

What should have been done?

What should an organization do to plan for high demand situations and avoid public embarrassment?

  • Build every web application with performance & scalability in mind on both the front-end and back-end.
  • Consider potential performance bottlenecks when designing your database architecture.
  • Plan to keep as much traffic off of your web servers as possible through creative caching solutions. (i.e. Use a CDN)
  • Plan how to scale your infrastructure ahead of time and automate as much as possible.

Need help with these problems or planning for scale? Chromatic can help, hit us up.