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Preventing website crashes

Help prevent website issues this Black Friday with these tips


Just like many things in 2020 and 2021, Black Friday will look slightly different to years gone by. Instead of flooding to the shops in person, it’s likely crowds will be searching for bargains online. However, while it gives you a great opportunity to boost sales and entice in new shoppers, thousands of online retailers’ websites in recent years have struggled to accommodate such a large influx of people.

So it’s important any new customer’s first interaction with your website isn’t waiting for pages to load, or one that crashes as they start to add items to their cart. Any downtime over Black Friday is unaffordable for customer service and brand reputation.

In this post, we explore how you can safeguard your website in the run up to the deals event of the year – ensuring that it performs seamlessly over Black Friday.

Stress test your website ahead of the event

Retailers of all shapes and sizes have found out the hard way over the last few years: a spike in visitors to your website in a short space of time can cause problems if you haven’t tested its capacity.

It’s important to work out the limits of your website ahead of the big day. Set a schedule for simulations in advance of Black Friday and use load testing tools – like Apache JMeter and Locust to see how your site copes when you simulate a leap in web traffic.

Doing this will allow you to work out which areas are slower and more prone to crash ahead of the main event.

Make sure your website software is up-to-date

We’ve all casually postponed updates on our smartphones and computers before, but it’s important to resist the temptation to do the same for software you use to run your site.

Make sure you are updating your content management systems, your Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) software and your pop-up chat assistant in the run up to the event. In fact, this is good practice at any point – these updates help fix bugs and vulnerabilities in the software that the developers might have originally missed and can unlock additional performance and capacity.

Remove data caps on your server ahead of key moments

Before the Black Friday weekend arrives, it’s worth checking in with whoever looks after your server – often your webmaster or hosting business – to make sure there aren’t data caps in place. Often web hosts will enable these to limit the amount of data transfer between your site and the server as a measure to keep costs down. At moments where you’re expecting a spike in traffic, removing these caps – or ‘unthrottling’ – will help improve the customer experience and should boost the number of sales you can process.

Think about using a Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are a distributed platform of servers designed to minimise delays in loading web page content. These are essentially built for high traffic scenarios and are meant to stop visitors bouncing away from your site if pages are slow to load. They can also deliver optimisations – such as caching – to your site, which can cut costs in the long-term. 

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