A fast, reliable website is vital. There’s no skirting around it – you can quickly lose customers if performance monitoring drops off the priority list and your website runs slowly, particularly when promotions or summer sales are running.

But uncovering and analysing every single aspect of what is and isn’t working can be a daunting and lengthy task, especially if you have not foreseen an increase in traffic. There are, however, a few ways you can turn this around to deliver a faster and more reliable ecommerce site without months of preparation.

1) Identify and remove single points of failure (SPOFs)

Maybe your systems can handle any influx of traffic, even with large numbers of bargain hunters determined to grab the latest holiday deal. But it may be that your weakest link is external content.

Third parties play a bigger role in affecting a website’s performance than many people think. Some, such as payment gateways, are essential. However, other third parties, such as social media feeds and A/B testing services, aren’t as critical and could be removed to enhance performance. Some non-critical resources can even break your website if they’re slow to load or fail altogether.

2) Optimise large images to make way for traffic

Summer sales can be particularly busy times for travel sites. And along with this surge in traffic, image-heavy ads will likely be used to shout about the best deals.

The problem is that these files are often large, and consequently take longer to load. This will directly affect the user’s experience by increasing load times precisely when you need them to be fast. Therefore, one quick tip is to optimise your upcoming promotional ads and hero images.

3) Ensure static assets have long cache lifetimes

Requests for large numbers of files on your site may be one of the reasons why it is underperforming. Therefore, reducing the number of requests can make it faster. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ensure that files that don’t change very often, such as images and style sheets, can be cached on end users’ devices.

Getting this right means that your customers will only have to download your holiday graphics once, increasing load speed and helping to boost conversion rates.

4) Get rid of non-essential content

Many travel providers will be unaware that redundant content is a common cause of an unresponsive website. Newer features are added more often than older features are removed, building up the number of unused scripts and styles.

A full audit of your website or even just your key pages may not be possible at short notice, yet a brief check of the source code will most likely reveal some content that is not needed and could be removed.

Securing quick wins

The simple steps outlined above are just some of the ways you can limit the impact of increased website traffic and keep your website running smoothly when it matters the most. However, the best way to cope with peaks is to plan well in advance and carry out a full audit of your site, followed by load testing under controlled conditions to find out how it will perform when you hit your peak. 

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