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Time To Give Your Website A Stress Test

Aug 17, 2007
I'm writing this article in the middle of February, and you may or may not know I live in a suburb of Chicago. So if you know anything about the Midwest, sometimes the winter weather can be nasty. I'm not complaining about the cold or snow. I choose to live here for a long list of reasons, and really am confused about people that complain about the weather. You live in Chicago. The weather is bad in the winter, so get over it! If you don't like it, you better move South. What's stopping you?

But I digress...

When the snow and cold hit in the evening, the big question on kids minds is, "Will they cancel school tomorrow?" Parents, you know what I'm talking about, right? And you Yankee folks aren't too old to remember the anticipation of a surprise holiday due to winter weather, are you?

When we were kids, we had to turn on the radio while the newscaster spent his entire morning reading off a giant list of every school in the Chicagoland area that was closed. That list took about 20-30 minutes each time, so we had to listen carefully. "Will he say my school?"

It was either, "Yes! Snow Day!", or "Shoot, everyone else is off but us. Why do we have school?"

Well fast forward to yesterday. Chicago had itself a nice mini-blizzard, like one that we haven't had in quite a number of years. So the big question in our house was, "Will they cancel school tomorrow?"

Fortunately, we live in the Internet age, so the local school register with a web site and post a message that they are closed. So it's a matter of searching for your school or city on this web site, and you have your answer in 10 seconds...in theory.

What do you think happens to a web site that suddenly gets hundreds of thousands of visitors in a 1 hour window? Yep, S...L...O...W response. "Web Site Unavailable". "Please Try Later".

Okay, what's the problem here? This service is needed like 3 times per year, max. And it serves a real community purpose. So why can't this web site (again, no names) buy themselves a big enough web server to handle the rush of traffic between 6 and 7 in the morning? What the heck good does an emergency school closing website do when the dang thing is down when everyone needs it?

Not much. We had to listen to the newscaster read off the list of names. Just like 30 years ago. (We did get a call from the room mother, eventually too).

What's my point?

If you intend to provide visitors information, you better go to the proper lengths to make sure they can get it. It's called "Stress Testing" the system. Every website can work just fine without traffic, but can it handle a surge of visitors?

If your web site is heavily trafficked, or it gets "spikes" of use during special events, certain times of the day, or when certain news or situations cause it, you better make sure your ready. Nothing will cause you lost customers, subscribers, or angry visitors than when they want something from your web site and they can't get it.

Pick up the phone and have a nice talk with your web hosting company. Ask them if your website is on a server than can handle the amount of traffic you are getting. Talk to them about something called, "bandwidth". Odds are, if you are using a lot of bandwidth, they'll be calling you anyway.

Now I need to go back and snow-blow my driveway again.
About the Author
Bob Regnerus is an expert in generating and converting website visitors into new business. Bob has a solution just for Businesses who want
more new clients! Find out more at www.TheLeadsKing.com or contact Bob at 1-877-349-2615.
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