5 tips to ensure that your web store is prepared for the Christmas season
Do you run a web store? Then, the most crucial period of 2015 is coming: the Christmas season! With more special offers, which also means more visitors. But there is a chance that your website becomes a victim of its own success. It may load much too slowly, or eventually crash due to heavy traffic. These 5 tips will help your website get through this hard time with flying colours.
1. Use smart caching techniques
Caching makes your website pages load faster. Put simply, this technique is used “behind the screens” in order to process data (and thus visitors on your site) faster. In short: it makes your website “Christmas season proof”. This is not insignificant, because without caching, your server may crash due to the huge number of visitors on your e-store. Fortunately, your hosting partner can help you benefit from advanced caching technologies such as Varnish, Redis and Memcached.
However, not every page on your website can be cached just like that: things can get much more complicated when it comes to caching pages in the payment process used on your web store. In addition, a page can load slowly for a variety of reasons. This is why it might be a good idea to simulate the performance of your website in time, so that you can find the cause of the problem.
2. Make sure that all the software is up-to-date
There are plenty of successful e-commerce projects that continuously innovate. The problem is that this often happens on the business side, and the technical side is disregarded. As a consequence, your store uses the same software version for years. New software versions are usually faster and include security updates. It is true that it takes some time to install updates, but updates guarantee the proper functioning of your website.
Do not forget that up-to-date software involves many aspects. What we mean is that the most recent versions of other elements, such as the web server, the database server and even the operating system, should also be used.
If you have any doubts, ask your hosting partner for help; everything will be done better and faster.
3. Make user experience a priority
Poorly performing servers, unstable network, bad code and exasperatingly slow databases… all form the basis of bad web performance. Because your website performance does not only depend on UX and clean design. The load speed and general performance are at least as important. If you forget about this, chances are that your potential customer will give up at the last minute. And make no mistake about it: even when all the above-mentioned things have been optimised, there is always a possibility that your website loads slowly.
Sometimes, small details can help users achieve a more pleasant shopping experience. These are a few changes that can work wonders:
- Make sure that product images are not too large
- Combine small images into a large file using image sprites
- Enable GZIP compression for your pages. Do this on server level (ask your hosting provider)
4. Simulate and improve
What impact does caching have? And how does the code behave on the current infrastructure? Or how much extra capacity is required to be prepared for the Chistmas season? The answers to these questions depend on several factors. This is why you should test the performance of your website, possibly in a separate environment. A good simulation beforehand will help you put your mind at ease. Because it gives a good indication of what your site is capable of.
If you are not happy with the results, then perhaps you should consider using the necessary monitoring tools: they will show you how and where things are slowing down. And you will be able to optimise where necessary.
5. Go for maximum scalability and choose cloud solutions
Welcoming more visitors on you web store is fantastic, but if your hosting services are not scalable, your dream could turn into a nightmare. A scalable infrastructure is important indeed. This is why you should enquire with your hosting partner about the available cloud hosting solutions. Or a temporary extension of your current infrastructure. This will result in maximum availability and scalability of your website.