New TSP site drives traffic, gets mixed reviews

Kelly Martin /Govexec.com
Traffic to the Thrift Savings Plan's website has picked up in the aftermath of a June 12 redesign, but visitors are having mixed experiences with the makeover.

Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, said the site has been averaging between 1 million and 1.2 million hits daily since plan managers unveiled the new look. Before the launch, TSP officials said the website received tens of thousands of hits daily and more than 1 million page views a month.

Despite the breath of new life, the website is getting mixed reviews.

Government Executive readers noticed a number of glitches, particularly with the savings and monthly payment calculators on the site. One said the calculator gave incomplete or inadequate results; another experienced fatal errors while using it. One user said the data seemed harder to access on the new site, which also features information about plan eligibility, investment fund options and loans, and guidance for major life events such as entering and leaving government or military service.

"Apparently [the] transition did not go smoothly," another reader said. "Lost my allotment distribution percentages without me making the change. Now only depositing in the G Fund. Wonder if it will automatically correct itself or if I have to go in and make the change myself."

Some gave more positive or neutral reviews. One reader was pleased there is now a single portal for making changes. Another liked the old website fine and wished instead the board focused its effort on providing a Roth retirement account option. Mostly, users simply wanted to be heard. One lamented the lack of a feedback mechanism on the site, beyond picking up the phone or writing a letter.

"If I had an e-mail address, I could send screen snapshots and the Web administrator could more easily understand the problems," one user said. "Additionally, I THOUGHT we were to be able to provide the board with feedback on topics and initiatives . . . well, it ain't in there as far as I can tell!"

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced the redesign last July and initially planned to have the redesigned site up and running during the first quarter of 2010, following user testing. Concerns about the site's ability to handle the "substantially higher volume" of traffic it was expected to generate, however, pushed back the launch date.

At the launch of the site, TSP Executive Director Gregory Long assured users the board, "will continue to enhance the website so that the time you spend here will be more efficient and more informative."

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