We occasionally get phone calls from clients and potential clients who are expecting a lot of visitors to their Web site as a result of some national exposure. They have an article is a popular magazine, earned a mention on a popular TV show or are part of a national email campaign. This type of attention is usually what every small business aims for, but it is important to step back and make sure that your Web site can handle all of this attention. Some key questions to ask:
- Is your Web host ready? We recently reviewed a client’s Web hosting documentation and discovered this gem: “If for whatever reason your sites increased traffic causes problems for the server it may be necessary for the support department to ‘throttle’ your site … or possible (sic) even disable it.” Yikes. I wouldn’t want that to happen on the day of my national debut. Make sure your Web hosting is an environment which will be ready to handle all of that traffic. Check in with your Web hosting company and be sure you are on a Web hosting plan that can accommodate your needs.
- Have you tested? There are various tools available for simulating large numbers of simultaneous users — they are called Web site load testing tools. None of these are perfect, but they should give you a general idea of what you can handle. Make sure this testing any actions necessary to improve things are completed before the big day.
- Have an estimate. Although your business has never had national exposure before, you have had more limited attention. Try to make some educated guesses based on your previous experience. A local ad campaign, which reaches 2,000 people, netted 10 orders in 1 day. A national campaign, which reaches 200,000 people might net 1,000 in one day. It isn’t important that these numbers are 100% accurate — even if they aren’t, they will give you an estimate to plan for.
Good luck on your big day!