The Affordable Care Act began enrollment on October 1, 2013 for health care coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. Health care consumers are directed to log-on to the healthcare.gov website (see Figure 1), call, or show up in person. Over 2 million people have accessed the site in the first two days, many experiencing errors or delays (which the media is characterizing as “glitches” and “growing pains”). Let’s take a closer look at the healthcare.gov website to see how its performance can be improved.
Start render optimization takes place before the first content appears to the user, and is critical for good HCI feedback. A fast start render time gives the user visual feedback
that the web server is responsive. Ideally you want a start render time (and useful content
display) of under 1-2 seconds (see Website Optimization Secrets for details). The start render (the time it takes for the first visible changes to appear) is composed of Time to First Byte (TTFB) connect time, server response time, processing objects in the HEAD of your document, and initial page parsing and rendering. Optimizng your start render time is a matter of optimizng each of these delay components.