How to Prepare for 100% Uptime and Exceptional Performance on Black Friday

Black Friday is the greatest challenge of the year for everyone in E-commerce. To make sure your shop is open, available, fast and free of problems – you need to make sure everything works like it should, and that you are ready to sell on the big day.

Quick Tips for Black Friday

  • Make realistic estimates of your traffic, and make sure your hosting will scale to your expectations
  • Make separate landing pages for your campaigns, and optimise them for performance.
  • Prepare for heavy load, this day HTML Caching can help
  • Get rid of dependencies on third party services, freight calculation has killed many checkouts before. Disable this on Black Friday, and give customers a fixed price, or just free delivery!
  • Fix all known bugs and regressions, they can break your site under heavy load.

Accelerated Domains

Accelerated Domains helps you unlock new growth, more revenue, and greater reach and it requires very little work and setup on your end. It was built specifically to help your site perform better across the board for large campaigns such as Black Friday.

Performance Review

Do a complete review of your web solution – from backend to frontend, and make sure everything works like it should. There is a lot you can do yourself, or you can ask us to do it thoroughly. We do a review of the database, the back-end, logs, front-end – your various page types and deliver a prioritised list of issues that will contribute to better performance.

Check your site’s various page types

If you review your own pages, it is important to touch and inspect all the various page types – with special focus on popular high traffic pages like your special landing pages and search. Be in control of your front page, Black Friday landing pages, category pages, search, and of course your cart and checkout.

Developers should check

  • Backend – System logs (AccessLog, ErrorLog, Cronlog), CMS specific logs
  • Frontend code (Javascript, HTML, CSS)
  • Frontend optimisation (Waterfall analysis, PageSpeed)
  • That Search is lightweight and scales
  • Remove unnecessary dependencies
  • Fix all known bugs

Load Testing

A Load Test is the closest you will get to the real traffic situation on Black Friday. With virtual users, profiles and traffic hammering your website, the weak spots will surface, and solutions can be identified in a timely manner. To make sure your site runs smoothly with 100% uptime on Black Friday, all weaknesses need to vanish before the big day.

  • Make tests that replicate your users behaviour based on last years data
  • Tests should simulate regular patterns, and include all varieties of your page types.
  • Test up to twice the volume of your estimated traffic peak. The key metric is the number of page views your site can handle per second
  • Do not perform load testing without notifying your hosting provider first!

Order Load Test

Scaling eCommerce

In eCommerce there are a set of separate challenges. We’ve written an entire article on how to properly scale WooCommerce to meet your traffic goals.

HTML Caching

When you have a healthy website, you can add a layer of HTML caching to increase scalability and to handle the highest traffic peaks. HTML Caching allows the server to respond with a pre-built page immediately, instead of generating it for each page view. This reduces the load on the back end servers and can increase scalability.

Don’t use HTML caching for performance if your site does not work properly. This will just postpone your problems, a little bit. On Black Friday, you can expect 30-40% of your traffic to bypass the cache anyway (sessions, cart, checkout, search etc), so having an efficient and functional website should be priority number 1, and adding a layer of HTML Caching can be done as a last finish.

Servebolt’s HTML Cache plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce and Magento can help you scale traffic. It uses Nginx in the Servebolt hosting stack for HTML Caching – eliminating the need of additional third party software.

Thomas Audunhus

Head of Product

Thomas has built some of the fastest WordPress and WooCommerce pages in Norway and knows exactly how to make this happen. As Head of Product at Servebolt, he makes sure our services are as performant as possible.

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