The internet has enabled businesses the world over to expand their customer base across geographies. This has given rise to events that launch and showcase products online to international audiences, enabling everyone around the world to be able to see and order products at the same time.
These events are the dream of any company that has a web-launch of their products. Having a large user base that makes your event go viral and cause massive organic traffic surges to your event is what every company wishes for, but few companies are able to scale to accommodate such traffic.
Launch events of large companies and popular products put massive strains on websites and hosting providers. As the number of website hits can surge from a few thousand on a daily basis to millions, many ill-designed and under-scaled websites and low-cost hosting providers buckle under the strain and cause downtime. As an example, in July 2018, Amazon’s Prime Day sale caused massive outages of the Amazon website for a long time, causing delays, frustration to users and loss of revenue to Amazon.
A similar case was of the fashion company Goat Fashion, whose website was inaccessible for 40 minutes after the Duchess, Meghan Markle, was seen wearing one of their dresses during her first official royal appearance. As users in their thousands swarmed to the website to get that dress for themselves, the website crashed and was inaccessible for a long time.
This caused a major loss of revenue for the company, along with missed sales opportunities. The company’s technical team had never anticipated such a rush, causing the downtime, but the internet is an unforgiving place.
Preparing your website for downtime is as important as the website itself. The first step towards the mitigation of downtime is the acceptance of downtime and communicating this downtime to your users.
Communicating downtime and handling the situation
A status page can go a long way in informing users that your website is down. Although you can communicate the same thing using twitter or other online broadcasting channels, the best way is to have a status page.
A downtime page will also help users get a meaningful message instead of a generic 404-Not found (or other) error by the browser. Assisting users via tech support and prompt responses on social media can go a long way in ensuring user trust.
Reliable web hosting
A low-cost hosting provider might seem like a good option, but choosing a cheaper provider over a better provider will always backfire. Managed, reliable hosting providers will always be more scalable, secure and robust.
With vast amounts of bandwidth, adequate security from known attacks and extremely powerful and capable services, these providers guarantee 99.9% uptime, ensuring that you rest assured from the website’s end during your product launch. Most large web hosts perform load balancing by replicating your site across geographies, ensuring that your website is accessible from an alternative location if not the primary location.
Dedicated servers can handle large volumes of data and multiple simultaneous connections as only one website is hosted on these servers. Using replication, managed servers can be across geographies, ensuring that a website remains functional even during peak load times, reducing slowness and mitigating any chances of downtime.
Backup, backup and more backups
Preparation is good, but backups are better. Websites can suffer from downtime no matter how reliable the host is. Website security is also important. A secure website has a lesser chance of being exploited by an attack.
However, in the case of a website being compromised, regular backups can ensure that you do not lose too much data. Websites can quickly be restored from a live backup, reducing downtime and ensuring that users hardly ever notice that the site had ever been compromised.
Code efficiency, optimization, and testing
Response times of websites and their user experience do not depend on the hosting provider alone. The way a website is coded, configured and the way it interacts with its backend matters a lot. A website making unnecessary calls to the server will experience slowdowns sooner. Optimization of code is of the utmost importance for any website. Testing a website is extremely important.
A well-tested website has most of the known problems plugged at the outset, ensuring a seamless, quality user interface that does not bring up any nasty surprises at the last moment.
As an online business in today’s day and age, a business must be able to scale and handle massive amounts of traffic during a product launch. To help a business website scale and handle such volumes, plans and strategies must be in place beforehand to ensure that the website works well even when the number of visitors increases exponentially. A website is only considered viable by users if the load time is under 2 seconds.
Slow websites will be dumped by users faster than they can load. If more users move to other websites compared to yours, you will end up losing sales, visitors and dent the overall image of your company’s brand and your online presence. Your crawl rates and search rankings will suffer. This, combined with high bounce rates will affect the credibility of your website and the resultant SEO rankings and will directly affect profits in the long run.