How To Ensure High Performing Web Sites


IT solution providers know it's a competitive world out there—and their customers are feeling the pressure too. Today's customers are demanding increased levels of up-time from their Web sites, and that means solution providers are feeling the heat. Owen Garrett, director of product marketing at Riverbed shares some ideas on how to satisfy clients growing need to be online all the time.—Jennifer D. Bosavage

In today’s increasingly Web-dependent society, users expect Web sites and online services to be consistently available. An unreliable Web site affects more than just the user experience; it can affect companies’ bottom line as well. And IT solution providers responsible for building Web sites have their reputations at stake.

Amazon estimates that every 0.1 seconds a customer has to wait for a Web site to load results in the loss of 1 percent of sales. What’s more, Aberdeen Group recently reported that a one-second delay in page load time equates to a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction and an 11 percent decrease in overall page views. Aberdeen also found that such decreases in page views negatively impacts revenue by an average of $117 million annually. Yikes!

So, it’s clear that building Web sites for your customers that provide a reliable online presence is a necessity to preserve both the user experience as well as your client's bottom line, but how does an IT solution provider go about building Web sites that are high performing? Being able to spiral up capacity, redirect users and customize experiences through traffic management software technology are three key ways to help deliver a seamless online presence.

Spiral Up Capacity
As more and more companies make the switch to the cloud, they are finding the advantages for Web site traffic management increasingly appealing. For Web sites that experience high volumes of traffic and millions of unique visitors each day, such as Gilt Groupe or SnagAJob.com, cloud computing provides the flexibility they need to scale quickly to meet demands.

With a software-based traffic management tool in place, such companies are able to identify when its threshold has been reached in the data center so they can easily spiral up more capacity by bursting into the cloud. Once primary servers are near or at capacity, a traffic manager can seamlessly divert traffic to the cloud as necessary, giving companies a safety net against overloaded servers and consequential downtime.

Not only does this help companies deliver nearly 100 percent up-time for users visiting their sites, but it also presents significant cost-saving opportunities. With cloud bursting capabilities, companies can decommission physical servers in their data center without fear of leaving their site or services under-provisioned since the traffic manager will balance all incoming requests, utilizing the cloud on an as-needed basis.

Redirect, Don’t Shut Down
With such a high level of technology available today, there is no excuse for web site downtime – even when IT solution providers need to perform maintenance. After all, when a department store needs to clean up aisle nine, they don’t shut down the entire store, and customers can continue happily browsing in aisle one. So, why should a Web site be any different? In such instances, companies using a traffic manager can simply redirect incoming requests to another part of the site.

If, for example, STA Travel, a global travel specialist, needed to update its site to include a new airline offering flights to Greece, its IT solution provider could simply redirect visitors searching for flights to Greece to other available airlines while the update is made, instead of taking down the whole site. That way, users can still freely browse the site without being deterred by Web site downtime, which may cause them to wander to a competitor’s site instead.

Customize Experiences
Redirecting incoming requests can be accomplished with custom scripting. Scripting is essentially a programming language that is built into advanced traffic management tools, allowing organizations to configure traffic and customize experiences based on sets of coded rules. Directing traffic through scripting language is a popular way for organizations to ensure their consumers experience the best possible version of their Web site.

Custom scripting is also an easy way to prioritize users to ensure that those most likely to make a purchase have a completely seamless experience. For instance, retail shopping sites often prioritize visitors who already have items in their online shopping cart, instead of those who are merely browsing the site, to make sure they can get through to the checkout process without a hitch, thus securing another sale.

The Bottom Line
In today’s day and age, the majority of companies can’t afford to not be online. With so much importance placed on Web site services, having a high-performing Web site that is constantly available and reliable has become a top priority, especially as a poorly functioning site will not be tolerated by end-users, and may even result in a significant loss of revenue.

To prevent that, organizations need to take the necessary steps to ensure that their Web site is consistently available, reliable, and scalable. And, with traffic management software solutions, this turns from a wish-list item into a reality. So, no matter how many incoming requests a company gets or how often their site needs updated, they can be confident in their traffic manger’s ability to scale, redirect and customize as needed to deliver a seamless Web site and online presence.