Tip: Prepare for Traffic Spikes

I was going to include something about Kim Kardashian in the title but I didn’t want to be click-bait-ey and this post isn’t really about her.

In 2014, Paper Mag released an issue featuring Kim Kardashian, and they titled it “Break The Internet”, because it contained a NSFW photo of her. If you know Kim K, you already know why Paper Mag chose that title, but if you’ve somehow been living under a rock and don’t know, it’s because one of the things she’s famous for is her butt.

So someone is famous for many things including her butt, and now you’re going to put a picture of that butt, unclothed, on your site? You’re going to get a lot of traffic, and while you won’t break the internet, you might get closer than anyone ever has to breaking it…which leads to what I want to talk about:

Preparing For Traffic Spikes On Your Site

Sales and massive discounts have been a thing for a long time, and I’ve participated in a couple of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, etc sales myself, both off- and online. For the most part, taking advantage of massive online sales was going swimmingly until I tried a particular Nigerian online store last Black Friday.

I wish I could tell you how that went, but all I have to report is that I couldn’t access the site, and I’m almost certain it’s because too many people were trying to get on at once. I tried multiple times in a 10-minute window, and then I just gave up. A number of other people reported having this same problem, too.

What does all this have to do with Paper Mag x Kim Kardashian? This article details how Paper Mag was thoughtful enough to scale their backend to accommodate a temporary spike in traffic to their site.

I don’t have the words to begin to describe how ridiculous it is that an ecommerce site will announce sales (of supposedly epic proportions) but seemingly not plan for attendant traffic. Kim K’s butt will be there for viewing today, tomorrow, etc, but this laptop going for 50% off won’t — so if Paper Mag could go to such lengths to plan for traffic, an ecommerce site should do even more. 
 To channel my inner Nigerian parent: Does Paper Mag have 2 heads?

I’m just one person, and me not buying from a site doesn’t really hurt their bottom line, but it is widely believed that enterprises - especially consumer-facing ones - should care about all users’ experiences, because happy users + a few other ingredients = more sales = more profits, etc. Clearly, this isn’t just for ecommerce sites, it’s for anyone who’s anticipating a spike in traffic to their site. PLAN. Here’s a good article to get started.

Update 25.11.2016: Things went a lot better this year with the ecommerce site referenced in this article, and while I’m sure it had absolutely nothing to do with my ranting, I’m glad they scaled adequately enough to accommodate eager shoppers :)


Originally published at aixen.ghost.io on April 3, 2016.

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