Preparing Your Website for an On-Sale Event

You have the product, but are you ready to sell it online?

The product is ready, the marketing team has been promoting it, and everyone knows this will be the next big thing. With all the hustle and bustle before the launch, do you know how prepared your website is? There is nothing more stressful than finding out during the middle of the on-sale event that no one can buy your products or even find out how to contact you!

Preparing for large on-sales events can seem like a daunting task but there are some proven strategies to make them far safer and more predictable. Depending on the time available and the amount of traffic expected, there are a variety of considerations to improve the performance of your website.

Here is a list of activities that can be performed to help you prepare. No single solution fits every scenario so discuss these options with your web development team to be prepared in the month leading up to the launch:

Estimate the number of users for the event

Using previous on-sale metrics can help you to establish a baseline with your team. Google Analytics is a great tool to get a rough estimate of users and total sessions for any past on-sale events.

The typical user volumes can vary greatly. You could be looking anywhere from 300 to 2,000 to tens of thousands of simultaneous users. It is important to get a gauge of what your metrics will look like so you can know how much preparation you need to make before your on-sale.

Simulate the number of users using a load test

You can identify the paths through the website that you expect users to utilize through previous traffic patterns in Google Analytics. Typically choose 3-5 different paths to simulate what user traffic will look like on the website during the on-sale.

If your timeline and budget allow for it, we also recommend working on any performance optimizations to the website code itself before launch.

Create a test environment

Now that you have the data you need, it is time to set up a test environment to verify everything will run as expected when the on-sale event goes live. You will also want to ensure any new products created are verified in the test environment and don’t forget to set up any pricing specifics, availability, add-ons, and promotions that are expected for the on-sale.

If you are running tests for performance, you will want the test environment to match the production environment. If there is more data in the production environment or the servers have a different configuration, you could wind up with vastly different results.

Having a documented process on how to properly configure the products will reduce the likelihood of configuration errors during the event.

Two men coding

Introduce a waiting room or queue to the website

There are several service options available you can add to the website before your event to create a queue or waiting room for users. These services allow for the option to limit website traffic if the system performance decreases during the event.

Adage has worked with Queue-It on several large on-sale events safely handling very high bursts of traffic.

Add a CDN to handle static items such as images, videos, or default content

There are several content delivery network (CDN) options available to host content off the production web servers. Implementing a CDN will reduce the overall traffic to the website and allow for more users on the system.

If all images and videos are offloaded from the webserver, up to 80% of the website’s bandwidth can be handled by the CDN if configured properly. This will improve the overall performance of your website especially if the system’s bottleneck is network throughput.

Determine a code freeze window before the event

Creating a specific time to implement a code freeze, the point when developers are no longer altering the website’s core architecture or code, will avoid any potential delays to the event and create a timeline for your team to work from. Any changes to support the on-sale should be made 2 or 3 weeks prior to the event.

Make sure that any regularly scheduled code deployments are adjusted for the code freeze window. 

External dependencies or equipment usage

Now is the time to ensure any equipment you need is working as it should. For example, if you are using a credit card reader with a website or generating barcodes, you will want to directly verify that the hardware is working as expected. If you are using a printer, ensure that the process is simple and running correctly.

You will want these pieces completed roughly a month before the on-sale, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to go live just yet. We still have some tips for you in the week or two leading up to the on-sale event. Head over to Part 2 if you are looking for what you need next to ensure your site is ready for the launch date.

Interested in getting started? Contact us today!

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