With consumers becoming ever more demanding when it comes to user experience, it’s never been more important for businesses to thoroughly prepare and test websites and apps to ensure they can cope with high traffic volumes.
As any company that has suffered an outage will know, downtime can lead to significant financial and reputational consequences. So, to maintain a competitive edge and keep customers happy, what can organisations learn from a web outage? Here are three things.
Know your limits
It’s important to determine what it takes for your website to crash. How many users can your site handle at any one time, and how many does it need to be able to support? Website traffic is not going to be the same every year, and, in most instances, websites crash because the growth factor hasn’t been taken into consideration. Use site traffic figures from previous years to identify high-traffic dates in advance, and prepare accordingly.
Test, test and test again! Load testing your site is your best prevention strategy against outages. There are plenty of load testing tools available that can simulate peak traffic environments quickly and easily, so if you site fails the load test, you will be able to identify what went wrong in a test environment.
Test early and often
Implementing performance testing into the software development lifecycle can help organisations to develop higher quality software in less time, while reducing development cost. The longer you wait to conduct performance tests, the more expensive it will become to incorporate changes.
Check that you have effective load balancing. Load balancing distributes loads from different users onto underlying systems evenly, but sometimes there may be errors caused by reconfigurations. Make sure that your servers receive an even load to ensure you deliver maximum capacity to users.
Communication is key
In the event of an outage, organisations must be transparent with their customers and let them know what’s going on. Acknowledge the outage, explain the reason for the occurrence, apologise for the inconvenience and provide a timescale to return to business as usual if possible.
A key to success here is having an incident or status page that is hosted by a 3rd party, not your own organisation. Here, you guarantee yourself the ability to communicate any disturbance which affects your customers – you can trust a 3rd party page to stay up during your downtime. Approach vendors who offer these incident pages as a service; there are plenty out there.
The modern consumer environment is an incredibly demanding one for businesses. Thanks to the instantaneous, ‘uberisation’ of services, users expect to access services when and where they want – so there is no leeway for error. If you do suffer an outage, make sure you learn from it and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Sourced by Erik Torlen, CTO of Apica
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