3 Takeaways from Major Website Crashes

Your website is not only the face of your organization: It’s your first impression, the friendly face of customer service, your best salesperson and a helpful resource for thousands of clients. As the hub of all information, commerce and communication, it is a crucial part of any organization.


But what happens when it goes down?


Unfortunately, history shows that website crashes are inevitable – we can’t predict usage, server issues or just plain user errors. If a website crashes during a major event, like a breaking news story or Black Friday, a company faces more than just fixing the issue. The fallout could be detrimental to your business: unhappy customers, the loss of a sale and bad press are just a few problems associated with a crash.


We took a look at some of the worst crashes in the past decade to see what we could learn. Here are our top 3 takeaways to make sure this doesn’t happen to your organization.


TAKEAWAY #1: Stress your servers – When a big event is on the horizon, like the release of anticipated tickets or a large number of users on your site, test everything…and then test again!


REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: Star Wars Ticket Sales (2015) – Star Wars fans made the news when Disney released tickets to upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Many ticket vendors, including AMC Theaters and Fandango, crashed under the onslaught of fans accessing the website for tickets. Although these sites and the others affected have experience dealing with large loads of eager fans, something tells me they weren’t expecting the force of the Jedi on this one.


TAKEAWAY #2: Performance test – Although companies likely prepared for the blitz of enthusiastic bargain hunters, a full performance testing would have helped prevent or at least prepare them for the insanity that ensued.


REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: Best Buy (Black Friday, 2014) – Black Friday: the biggest holiday shopping day of the year. Best Buy, in the middle of a corporate turnaround, banked on it to be the start of a major change. Shoppers using both the website and mobile app were met with a cheerful error message as they tried to access the website. Best Buy’s IT team “shut down the site after a ‘concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues’,” leaving customers in the lurch.


TAKEAWAY #3: Have a contingency plan – Although grounding one of the world’s busiest airspaces isn’t exactly common, computer and software malfunctions are. A reliable contingency plan, prepared to handle technological and PR problems, will keep customers informed and help move the recovery process along faster.


REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: Wall Street Journal (2015) – When New York Stock Exchange halted all trading, users headed to the Wall Street Journal’s homepage to find out more. Their servers couldn’t handle the amount of users trying to access the page and many found an error message. WSJ responded quickly, putting up a version of the homepage with a note informing readers of the technical difficulties.


Website malfunctions are bound to happen sooner or later, but you don’t need to fall victim to it. Building a solid contingency plan and testing both your servers and website will keep your website running smoothly. For more information about how you can keep your optimize your website, visit trustvip.com or read our whitepaper, Top Performance Testing Mistakes Companies Make and how to Avoid Them!


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