After spending months planning your event, the time to start the communication and selling tickets has finally arrived. And that is also the moment your website crashes. This happens with even the most professional events. Kevin asks Bernard Grymonpon how to make sure your website can handle the pressure.
27-10-2014 - by Kevin Van der Straeten
After spending months planning your event, the time to start the communication and selling tickets has finally arrived. And that is also the moment your website crashes. This happens with even the most professional events. I'll ask Bernard Grymonpon how to make sure your website can handle the pressure.
Hi Bernard, welcome to our studio.
Thank you, hi.
We're going to talk about hosting, the hosting of your website. And one of the biggest challenges for a lot of event companies is the start of their marketing campaign, the start of their ticket sales... And whoops, the website goes down. How can you prevent that?
There are a couple of steps to take. The first step is to work closely with your programmer. It's very important to have a programmer which you trust and which can deliver high performing code. But the second and even more important step is to talk to your hoster. He's the one who keeps the website running in the times of need. He will manage the server's infrastructure, and make sure that when the visitor comes to your page, he actually sees something on his screen and not just a blank page or some eh...
But that's always the discussion between hosters and programmers: "well my machine is running, but nothing's showing and..."
There are different kinds of hosters. There is the very strict hoster who just says: "I have a server, it is running, it's your problem". For a really important media campaign you cannot use such a hoster. So you need a hoster who is closely tied to you. Who will advise you and will follow your site. He will make sure that the site actually is displayed on the screen of the visitor, and not just a blank page. He will take it a step further. It's not just the server; the server is one step, but it's actually the code has to be well performing and the site has to deliver the content to the end user.
Okay, but if I go online I see a lot of hosting packages for 10 dollars a month. I'm very tempted to go with that kind of thing.
Yeah, if it's just an informational site and you have a couple of visitors a day, it's a perfect fit. Don't give too much money to an expensive hosting package. But if you have a media campaign and you spend thousands of dollars on advertising and then your site when it is needed is down, that's not what you want. It's even damaging to your image. You have visitors and they don't see, they don't get the content you promised them. Most of the time it's just a small part of the advertising cost to have a decent hosting company.
To have a decent hosting package, suited to your needs. Does that also mean that you have to be aware of when campaigns are planned?
Yeah, it is best to inform your host of when you have certain peak traffic. So if you have a campaign and you say like:
Tuesday evening at seven o' clock everybody has to go to the website to claim some code or some...
Or ticket sales for Tomorrowland starts for example.
Then you'll have to inform your host and you'll have to work closely together with him. If you have some event like during the week you can have something, even then it's good to inform your host. Cause he will notice a certain peak in traffic and he will have to examine it. And if he knows that this is coming then it will be deemed as normal and then he will just say: "okay, this is expected behavior."
Or he can anticipate on whatever comes?
Yeah, if you have a high-traffic site at a certain moment, we can even provide additional infrastructure.
Is that what you do, for example, with an event site? Because most of the year nobody comes to that site, unless on the day of the event itself or at the start of ticket sales...
Indeed, normally for certain events which happen once or a couple of times a year we will host it on a quite small platform.
Once the date comes close, then we'll move it on to a bigger package, that will automatically...
Give it more power?
Yeah, you give it more power. It automatically scales a bit. We put it seamlessly on other hardware. We apply multiple servers to the setup. And for the client itself it actually all seems very natural, it's always the same hosting environment.
He doesn't notice that there's more horsepower?
Normally that's very well camouflaged and it's the hoster's task. It's not the client who has to be that much aware of the setup.
I read a lot about caching, CDN's and things like that. What is that about?
Caching is the best way to have a well performing site. When you have one visitor and he gets a certain page served, the search is calculated. On the server site bits and pieces are collected and the page is formed out of this information, and then it's sent over to the visitor and he gets this displayed. Now the second visitor comes in, and actually he just needs the same page. It's all the same info, it's all the same logo, the same data... Why would you do the calculation a second time? When you have the first visitor: save a copy of it on the server. When the second visitor comes along you just serve back the copy, and you don't have to do all the calculations. That's caching. So you keep...
And that's very important for static information, like information on your event. But for ticket sales itself it's kind of hard, I think.
Partially that can be cached. Like the forms you have to fill in or the steps you have to take but in the end you actually have to submit your data, and that data needs to go to a server into a database so it is not lost. That last step, that's not cacheable. That's a step that needs to be processed by the server. And there we normally work closely together with the programmers, to make it as well-performing as possible. As little code as possible. So it is really fast and it doesn't block other factors of the site.
And the CDN, what was that?
CDN is something different; it's like if you have a world wide event you can have some servers in the US serving the content to the US people. We have some servers in Europe serving the content back to the European visitors. To bring it closer to the visitors? Indeed, it introduces some problems like when you buy a ticket in the US it also has to be sold in the EU and so on, but that's all do-able. It's a bit of programming, but that's no problem. The main thing I'll remember is: talk with your hoster.
Bernard, thank you very much.
And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.