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With Halloween decorations fading from stores, colorful leaves falling to the ground, and Starbucks transitioning from the Pumpkin Spice Latte to the Peppermint Mocha, it can only mean one thing: Black Friday is just around the corner—but is your website ready to handle the onslaught?
No matter how big or small your IT team is, you can prepare to avert disaster on the biggest shopping day of the year. Rely on these prevention tips and guidance for what to do if worst comes to worst.
How to Prevent Your Website from Crashing on Black Friday
The last thing you want on any day of the year is a website crash, but the impact is more significant on an important shopping day like Black Friday. Start putting these tips into practice now to prepare for extra traffic on the big day.
The best way to find out how prepared your site is for the demands of Black Friday is to start testing and monitoring its performance now. You can use either synthetic monitoring or real-user monitoring to test your site’s limits.
Synthetic monitoring typically uses scripted recordings of website transactions or web browser emulations. You can map out paths that real users would follow on your website to gain data about performance and to spot potential glitches. Real-user monitoring captures the actual behavior of users by gathering information about every real-time transaction on your website over time.
While both approaches provide valuable feedback, they each have advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic monitoring gives you an idea of your site’s capabilities faster than gathering data from real-time users, but it’s largely a guessing game. You’ll likely have to pay for this service from a provider such as AlertSite.
Real-user monitoring shows you exactly how customers actually experience your site. Google Analytics is the most pervasive tool used to capture this organic information—and it doesn’t cost you a dime to sign up.
A CDN is a Cloud-based service that automates and optimizes delivery of content to your customers. Content delivery networks rely on multiple servers around the globe, relieving the pressure on your local server and allowing all your customers to get to your site, even during traffic spikes. This is because it allows customers to access your website when many visitors are after the same information at the same time.
If you don’t already have a CDN in place, now is the time to get one. Many providers offer affordable options for any business, so adding this insurance for high-traffic periods won’t break your budget.
Around 56% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. When you optimize your site for mobile users, you’ll capture every piece of the holiday shopping pie. Don’t lose traffic to websites that are better equipped for serving customers on Black Friday.
The biggest problem most companies face is that their sites are too big to operate effectively on mobile devices. If you don’t already have a mobile version of your site, this should be one of your top priorities before the holiday shopping season comes in full swing.
Start by removing features that slow down mobile performance like high-resolution images and videos. Next, make it easy for mobile users to find your contact information, search field, shopping cart, and other crucial tools. You should also compress all mobile webpages to decrease load times, making it more likely that a visitor will click through to take action.
How to Recover if Your Website Crashes on Black Friday
If your website crashes on Black Friday, see it as a sign that you’re doing something right. It takes a lot of work to drive that many customers to your site, however, all that traffic won’t do you any good if your visitors can’t access anything. Here are some things you can do to get back online if your website breaks under the weight of Black Friday.
There might be some false alarms on the big day, so verify that you’re not viewing a cached version of your site. To do this, press down the shift key while refreshing your webpage. This will instantly tell you whether your site is down or if a reported crash may actually be due to a user’s device or internet connection. You can also ask someone else to access the site from their computer or mobile device to see if they encounter the same problem.
If your website really crashed, send an email along with social media alerts to let current and potential customers know you’re experiencing temporary technical difficulties. If you contact your customers through text messaging, you can send your notice that way as well.
If you’re using pay-per-click or another online advertising tool, you should contact vendors immediately to halt promotional activities until your website is running again. This saves you from paying for leads that will only bring your visitors to a broken site.
Web hosts can also fall prey to technical issues, so check to see if it’s this service that’s down. If that’s the case, get an estimate for when the problem should be resolved. If it’s not the case, enlist the web host’s tech support to work toward resolving your site’s issues.
Nobody wants to expect a website crash, but the best way to protect your business is to act as if it could happen to you. If you use these tips to help you get ahead of the curve, you can develop a plan of action that will carry you through if your website crashes this holiday season.