Under Pressure - Is Your Site Ready for a Traffic Spike?

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It’s a marketer’s dream. You come up with a new idea for a campaign to drive attention to a sale on your site. You get approval from the bosses, build a carefully targeted email list, put together some display ads, and get ready to scream about it on social media.

Finally, when you pull the trigger all your hard work, creativity, and ambition is rewarded with a flood of traffic ready to throw money at your site.

And then the dream becomes a nightmare. Your site speed takes a hit, and bounce rates start spiking. Browsers start timing out before items can be added to a cart. Payments aren’t processed. Finally, your site goes offline entirely and you find yourself sending panicked emails to anyone you can think of that can help get it running again. You sweat each passing minute feeling the loss of potential revenue and praying that all of these would-be customers don’t associate your brand with the incompetence you’ve displayed and the frustration they are feeling. By the time the site is back up, the moment has passed. Your wildly successful marketing campaign has turned into a disaster.

While not malicious, a great marketing campaign that drives overwhelming interest to your site can be just as dangerous as a DDOS attack. It doesn’t look any different to your web server attempting to respond to so many simultaneous requests. In some ways it is even worse, because you’ve taken down your site at a moment of peak interest while leaving a bad taste in the mouth of potential repeat customers.

This is why website scalability is so important, regardless of what your average traffic levels look like. In order to protect your website from going dark at the worst possible time, you need a plan to make sure your website is fast at any scale. Here are some action items to consider to make sure your site stands up during your next traffic spike.

Prepare your site for an increase in visitors

  • Cache static objects - Caching the static objects on your website can drastically reduce the load on your server by offloading files like images and javascript to reverse proxy servers. This not only makes your website more scalable, but improves user experience by speeding up page load time.

  • Front end optimization - Taking a look at the performance of your website and finding areas to improve is a crucial step to creating a scalable website. Find large images that can be compressed or combined with other images to reduce the number of calls to the server. If you have old third party JavaScript still running on your site but providing no value, remove them to improve page load time. Also consider your options when it comes to hosting providers and make sure they meet your needs in terms of website performance.

  • Use an overload protection service - Getting your site in scalable shape is your first priority, but it is always important to have a backup plan for huge traffic spikes. Overload protection services allow you to place a cap on the number of concurrent visitors your site will service at a time. This keeps your site running for existing customers and displays a message to new visitors to try again later. Learn more about overload protection from Section.

When it comes down to it, website performance should be measured by how your website performs under pressure. A great website performs not only under ideal circumstances but under duress as well. Make sure you’ve taken steps to prepare for the most demanding conditions and stop letting great marketing go to waste. To improve your website performance today, sign up for a free trial account of Section.

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