The biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are nearly upon us. If you’re on the development, marketing, or operations team of a large e-Commerce website, this signals the start of long hours of big sales, massive website traffic, and plenty of unexpected threats to your website uptime and performance.
But as the late, great author Douglas Adams once said: “Don’t Panic!”
In an attempt to help you maximize your e-Commerce website uptime and performance this holiday season, we have assembled a guide to help you prepare for the increase in threats to your online sales, conversions, and reputation in the event of website downtime or performance troubles.
Come up with a disaster recovery plan
This preparation tip is the first on our list, because it is one of the most crucial. No matter how much hard work and money that you channel towards maintaining your website uptime and performance, the unexpected will always happen.
By preparing an effective disaster recovery plan, you can mitigate the risk of website downtime disaster, knowing who to contact, and what to do in order to minimize the potential recovery time.
Contact your datacenter
When it comes to preparing your e-Commerce website for heavy traffic events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is good to call your datacenter ahead of time.
The last thing that you need is to have your datacenter perform maintenance during a critical time, or experience downtime because they haven’t prepared their electrical systems and network for the massive swarms of traffic. So call them up, and have a trusted point of contact in case the stuff hits the fan.
Have backups, and backups of backups in place
Keeping your data in one central location without redundant backup options is a disaster waiting to happen. A power surge, heavy traffic, inclement weather, or a DDoS is all it takes to take out your e-Commerce website.
By keeping backups of your critical website files and databases, and setting up multiple web servers in locations closest to your target market, you can help yourself avoid a worst case scenario
Test your tech early, and often
Get to know how much stress your website can take, by running through multiple tests prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ll gain great insight into where your e-Commerce website may fail or perform less than admirably, and be able to better address potential issues before they happen.
It is also a good idea to refrain from pushing untested updates to your website during a highly trafficked time period if possible.
Uptrends Website Monitoring watches over your e-Commerce website 24/7, alerting you at the first sign of trouble. It can monitor your uptime, performance, and even performs multi-step transaction monitoring.
Cache to save cash
If there are aspects of your e-Commerce website that can be a drain on your server resources, such as static content that won’t change, cache it. Caching can help to ensure that your users get the best performance out of your website, without having to download redundant files.
Analyze your third-party scripts
A lot of websites and e-Commerce websites rely on third-party scripts to display advertisements, track analytics, embed social media tools, and other functions. These scripts require extra calls to outside servers, which may slow down the performance of your webpages.
We recommend that you analyze the performance of your third-party scripts, and make sure that they are fully optimized and worth using. Don’t forget, these script providers might also be experiencing heavy traffic and other performance altering events caused by Black Friday and Cyber Monday that could affect you!
Invest in a CDN
A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, works best in tandem with onsite caching of images and other media. It essentially hosts your content on external servers (usually multiple servers that split the load), easing the strain on the primary servers driving your e-Commerce website.
Double-check your DNS, SSL Certificates
This one is something that not many people think about on a regular basis, let alone big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If your DNS suffers from downtime, or an error, your users will be unable to access your website, and services run from your website. In the event that your SSL Certificate expires or is hijacked, your users will likely be prompted that the page they are viewing is not secure.
Both instances could cause you to lose consumer trust and confidence, and result in lost sales. (Not to mention poor PR) We suggest checking, double checking, triple checking… your DNS and SSL Certificates to ensure maximum uptime.
Eliminate excess page elements
Do a series of speed tests on your most highly trafficked and most important webpages to ensure that you cannot optimize these pages more by eliminating excess code, media, etc. The more work that your website servers have to do on Black Friday, the more likely they are to fail.
Observe your competitors
The old saying goes, that the “ enemy of your enemy is your friend.” Well, in the case of e-Commerce on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,the mutual enemy of you and your competition is website downtime and poor performance.
By preparing your e-Commerce website for the worst, and observing your competitors, you can learn what works and doesn’t work in terms of website security and preparation – not just sales. In some cases, you may be able to quickly react to the struggles and folly of your competitors in the event of downtime. (Be wary though, the tables can turn very quickly!)
(Because all good things go to eleven) Invest in a tool that makes your job easier
As you can see, preparing your e-Commerce website for Black Friday, and Cyber Monday is a pretty time intensive job. But that doesn’t mean that you should be unable to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, spend time with family, and get some precious sleep.
By investing in an external data monitoring service, such as Uptrends Website Monitoring, you can alleviate some of the pressure that comes with operating an e-Commerce website during such a big event.
Uptrends monitors your website 24/7 using a network of over 130 global checkpointsdesigned to help you accurately determine where in the world your website is experiencing issues. At the first sign of a problem, Uptrends will alert you via SMS, E-mail, or push notification (with our free Uptrends mobile apps) so that you can log in and use collected data to perform advanced root-cause analyses.