Summer traditionally marks the start of a very busy period for many different types of businesses – particularly those in the home and gardens, leisure, travel, and food and beverage sectors. This year, with the Olympics also taking place, there is an opportunity for other retailers — especially those in the United Kingdom — to tap into the seasonal sales trend. If your business is expecting a hike in sales figures over the company months, you’ll likely have already advertised for temporary staff and increased stock of certain key products. But what about preparing your website for more visitors?
There are a few simple actions you can take to make sure your site is well equipped to handle a surge in visitors and won’t buckle under the pressure of more site views that usual.
1. Create a Mobile Version
Many modern websites are full of decorative elements such as flash and images. These play an important part in the design and branding process and are invaluable for creating a professional looking site. However, they can lead to heavy pages which are slow to load and can be a problem at peak times.
A mobile version of your website offers a lightweight alternative to the main site when traffic increases unexpectedly. As a pared back site, it will have fewer images or smaller graphics as well as less flash and weight HTML components, making the site easier and quicker to load when time is at a premium.
Using static rather than dynamic HTML can also make a difference, as static HTML code places less of a demand on the website server. In busy periods, this can mean larger volumes of traffic are handled more efficiently.
Key pages can also be created in lightweight formats to use in the time of extra attention – this could be the homepage, a certain news page or any other area of the site that goes viral and attracts much more traffic than usual.
2. Invest in Third Party Services as a Backup
If your own website buckles under the pressure of a deluge of visitors, there are several third party services – some free — that can be used as a backup for peace of mind. These services will help to maintain an online presence and capitalize on the interest in your brand, even if your website is temporarily down due to the sheer volume of traffic.
Platforms like Google Sites, Blogger and Google Docs can keep important parts of the site up and running. If you know a traffic spike is coming, you can re-create the part of your site most relevant to all of the interest on one of these platforms and filter off traffic to that third party service. This helps to reduce the load on your main server. Adding to your online infrastructure in this way can keep your site running smoothly even in the face of a massive peak in interest.
3. Focus on File Formats
Some files are smaller than others, making them quicker to download. If your new visitors are likely to be interested in a downloadable such as an article or a brochure, trying new file formats to keep these documents as small as possible will keep the site running more efficiently. A plain text file will be smaller than a PDF document for example, making it quicker for the visitor to download and access the information they need. If a simple text file is not sufficient, a PDF file based mainly on text content will also be quite small and therefore, not place a large load on busy servers.
4. Tabular Data in CSV Formats
Google recommends tables of data be provided in a CSV or XML format. These are classed as ‘lightweight’ file types and are easy to download. In times of traffic spikes, offering a download of key information in this format means it can be easily integrated in other applications and used on other sites to remain highly visible.