With New Zealand heading into COVID-19 Alert Level 3 we all need to be prepared for what that means for our websites and online businesses.
As New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 3 next week we wanted to make sure that you and your business are as prepared as possible. For many of you, your websites and the server it is hosted on will be receiving much more of your business than usual, and in some cases all of your business. We'll cover a few of the things that we have seen happen to customers already and what you can do to help ease the pressure on you and your website.
Connect with your customers (but not all once)
If you’re planning on getting in touch with your customers to get them to visit your website, then consider not inviting them all at once. Think about how many visitors your website would normally have on a busy day and contacting your customers in groups of that size with a bit of a time gap between your communications. This is so your customers don’t go to your website all at once.
Think about it as a shop that has enough room for 50 customers but all customers are invited to come to the shop at the same time. It generally doesn’t go too well as there isn’t enough room or enough people to serve everyone. Having people come to your site in smaller numbers may let you better handle any queries that come in from your customers while they are on your website. If everyone is on your website at the same time then you may be overwhelmed whereas if it’s staggered then you will probably be able to better deal with the flow of communications and orders from your customers and your website server will be able to handle the load better as well.
Can your website handle the traffic?
We’ve recently seen that websites are getting more traffic and the servers have been using more resources. Before covid-19 a website was one sales channel alongside physical shops etc. whereas now it is probably the only sales channel and therefore websites are getting more visitors as people are doing all of their buying online.
A website server needs three things to be able to deliver pages for each visitor:
- Processor Cores (think of them as the engine) take the website code on the server and “process” it into pages for your visitors. The more visitors you have the more cores you’ll need.
- RAM or Memory is temporary storage space that’s used for everything that’s happening right now on the server. If there isn’t enough space it has to save to the server's disk (known as swapping), which slows down the website pages being served. Think of it as having enough countertop space to have all the ingredients out and ready to use when cooking as opposed to having to go back and forth to the pantry for each ingredient which slows down dinner being served.
- Storage is where the website code and files are stored on disk. Generally if there is enough to store the website pages and code right now then there’s probably enough storage.
There is no magic number of the right mix of Cores, RAM and Storage to make a website fast but you should be able to have a look at the graphs on your website server and check how much of each is being used. If it looks like they were being mostly used up in the past, then you might want to consider adding more resources for the next while to cover the increase in website visitors. Get in touch with us and we can help with that.
Caching will help
Do you know if your website has a caching solution in place? Caching makes website pages load faster. Simply put caching does this by saving a snapshot of the most visited pages in RAM and serving the pages from there, which is much faster than “processing” the page for every new visitor. A couple of the caching solutions that we’ve put in place are Nginx and Varnish. There are caching plugins for most content management systems like WordPress etc as well. It’s best if you get in touch with your website developers if you’re not sure if your website has caching in place. They should be able to tell you if it does or set it up. Alternatively, if you’d like us to have a look at that for you then get in touch.
Good luck getting your business back up and running at level 3 and beyond! Remember we’re all in this together. If you have any concerns or issues do get in touch with us and we’ll do everything we can to help sort you out!