Memorial Day is both somber and celebratory. Dedicated to remembering those who have fallen while serving in the United States military, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial kickoff of summer.
One of the highlights of this three-day weekend is the sales, especially on seasonal items, such as barbecue grills, outdoor furniture, and other summertime mainstays. Regardless of what you’re selling, Memorial Day weekend has the potential to be a busy day for online sales, so here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your site performs well despite surges in traffic.
Remember: users might wait in lines at brick-and-mortar stores, but they will certainly not wait in line when visiting your online store.
Provide a Top-Notch UI and UX
As technology changes and developers roll out new, innovative features, you should make sure that your site doesn’t stagnate. Conversely, take care that your site doesn’t become so cluttered with extra features that you’ve added that it’s hard to use — simplicity is still key, so remove anything that’s old, outdated, or redundant due to new features you’ve added.
Prior to the start of the holiday weekend is a great time to step into your customer’s shoes, so to speak, and walk through the processes they might be using. Is it easy for someone to find what they’re looking for, add it to their cart, and checkout? Does that search feature find all of the products you expect it to? Have you added anything recently that has broken another feature (and has gone unnoticed)?
User experience matters when it comes to online shopping. Poor online shopping experiences negatively influence people’s perceptions of your company, so when you have a large number of visitors, be sure to provide the best possible experience.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Before the weekend begins, test your site and everything you use to serve it to your customers. By running comprehensive performance tests and using a full-featured monitoring suite like Rigor, you can easily identify areas of strength and areas of weakness. Because you know ahead of time how much traffic your server can handle, how quickly your pages load, and what you need to do to guarantee optimal performance, you can rest assured that your site won’t let you down during peak periods.
Review Your Site’s Optimization
If the tests that you’ve run on your site indicate that your site could be more performant, be sure to implement the appropriate optimization before peak traffic hits. Some of the things you might do include:
- Cache your resources and compress them as much as possible to minimize load times for your viewers and the demand on your web servers
- Use a CDN to bring your site closer to your users
- Minify your files
- Reduce the amount of time it takes for your server to respond
Rethink Your Server Configuration
While your current server configuration may be enough to handle existing traffic patterns, look carefully to guarantee that it can handle any spikes in traffic generated by holiday sales. If you have a flexible hosting plan, this is easily done, but even if you don’t, work with your host to guarantee that you have the capability available to handle heavy loads.
Furthermore, check to see if you’ve got your traffic is adequately load balanced so that you don’t have one server overwhelmed while others are sitting idle. Doing this also reduces the possibility that your site won’t go down completely if a server does end up overwhelmed — others will simply pick up the slack — while minimizing the amount of time your users spend waiting for your page to load. Time is money, and if your site doesn’t load quickly enough, your visitors will simply navigate elsewhere.
Have Option B Available
“Be prepared” should be your motto. We can’t say how likely it is that something will go wrong with your site during peak traffic periods, but by planning ahead of time, thinking through adverse scenarios, and discussing solutions ahead of time, you can minimize the negative impact site failures have on your bottom line. If your Option A were unavailable, what would your Option B be?
Keep an Eye on Your Site
Full-featured monitoring suites like the one offered by Rigor aren’t just useful during testing periods; they are intended for continuous use so that you can get information on how well your site is performing at all times.
More importantly, you can set up alerts so that you know right away if something does go wrong. Before your customers find out that there’s an issue, either with your site or with a third-party dependency used by your site, you’ll know about it and be able to take the steps needed to fix it.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of the feature or not — if your site relies on it, you should monitor it. Plan for the unexpected, and know exactly what you’ll do ahead of time. Use these notifications to give you time to implement Option B and minimize downtime.
Memorial Day weekend is a busy time for businesses, so you’ll likely see traffic surges from people looking for a great deal on your products. Be proactive, and take the time to ensure that your site will perform as well as possible so that you can take advantage of this potentially lucrative weekend.
Contact Rigor today to see how our full-feature monitoring services and optimization suite can help you prepare for and deliver a superior digital user experience both day-to-day and through traffic surges.
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