Web Performance April 15, 2020 by Olga Kokoulina

How to Improve Your Website During the Quarantine (So It Pays off After It Too)

For many SMBs, the massive self-isolation caused by COVID-19 can seem to be as catastrophic as the asteroid that spelled the end for the dinosaurs. As you’re reading this article, someone’s favorite bar is being closed, and some restaurant is opting out from seating guests in favor of no-contact delivery.

Is the situation any better for online businesses? It’s not cut and dried. During the last four months, we’ve witnessed a drastic change in online traffic patterns: mass remote work adoption, a seismic shift in eLearning, and, of course, a boom in online entertainment. Still, there’s also a flipside to more users coming online.

Massive Traffic Surges

Even the largest online businesses can be fragile when facing sudden changes in traffic patterns. For online retailers, the only way to showcase their goods is by uploading photos and videos.  If the website fails to serve media content, the results can be disastrous: 90% of visitors may leave your product page if there are issues with photos, according to Etsy. The effects of such downtime can cost thousands of dollars; money that could better be spent on expanding customer acquisition and retention initiatives.

Recently, we’ve also posted an article on how traffic spikes can destroy online services’ quality of experience (QoE), the most important metric for video providers. But even if you don’t expect too much traffic to your website, or already have solid surge protection, there’s another pitfall that lies ahead.

Decreased Conversion Rates

As internet traffic continues to grow, its revenue effects may be delayed due to the increasing share of “online newcomers” — users who aren’t used to buying online. They’re just dipping their toes in the web, so they need a smooth, well-polished digital experience to further retain their presence online after the lockdown wave falls short.

Also, we’re seeing many free and discounted offerings: giveaways, freebie courses, unlocked premium features, special sales, and so on. Many businesses are rolling out measures to support their communities during the pandemic. Regardless of the root cause behind these measures—whether it be a selfless wish to help, or just to keep up with the latest marketing trends—it will take those companies, especially the smaller ones, much longer to break even, let alone turn a profit.

At the same time, looking ahead to the time when the pandemic hopefully ends, we may also experience a downward trend of web traffic due to “online fatigue.” Once the quarantine ends, people are likely to give up the internet for an indeterminate period of time.

A lot has changed since the beginning of the year, but more changes and opportunities are yet to come. That’s why we believe that businesses should aim at both acquiring and retaining users in the course of the upcoming six months.

The Traffic Is Volatile, but There’s a Solution

To protect your website or app from both traffic spikes and user churns due to “online fatigue,” we suggest implementing the following measures:

  • Use a fail-safe setup that combines multiple CDN and computing infrastructure solutions.
  • Use DoS protection to ensure your uptime and reliability.
  • Build or improve your Media Service to produce content that complies with Google PageSpeed and PWA requirements within different user sessions.
  • Make sure your origin and storage services are covered by an enterprise-grade SLA.

For some of us, all that might sound too technical, so let’s elaborate on how it actually helps.

1. Using multiple CDN infrastructure

It’s important to have a spare wheel on a long trip, and the same goes for building a reliable infrastructure for a web service. At Uploadcare, we use the two most trusted CDN infrastructures: Akamai and Amazon CloudFront. They back each other up in case there are any issues, which generally strengthens the reliability of the system.

Plus, when there are multiple CDNs within your infrastructure, you can use them for different purposes. One can be dedicated to file uploading (or ingestion), and the other for file delivery. In this case, you improve the overall infrastructure performance.

2. Implementing automatic DDoS protection

Unfortunately, when your website experiences a massive spike in traffic, it’s too late to implement any preventive measures. That’s why using a CDN-based solution like Uploadcare is key. Since content can be delivered from multiple geographically distributed data centers, the bandwidth they can withstand grows drastically. 

With more and more users coming online during the quarantine lockdown, Uploadcare automatically scales the infrastructure in line with the load, thus keeping websites and applications safe from any traffic surges. Our dedicated DevOps team constantly monitors changes in traffic patterns across the internet, especially within the segment of Uploadcare customers, to optimize server load and ensure speedy throughput. 

3. Ensuring web pages are compliant with performance standards

The purpose of any web page can be summarized in these three goals: inform, acquire, and convert users. There are two issues that, if mishandled, can spoil the chances for reaching these goals—Google PageSpeed and PWA requirements. 

Google PageSpeed is a metric that shows how fast a website loads. PWA, which stands for Progressive Web Apps, is a bit more tricky concept. It’s a solution that allows you to deliver your website to mobiles in an app-based style without the need for you to create an actual app. Simply put, if your website is fast and mobile-friendly, it gets ranked higher in search results, and has more visitors and better chances to convert them.

Uploadcare helps you meet those requirements without putting in much effort. It implements Adaptive Delivery technology, which adapts image and video content to each user’s context and helps serve beautiful media on both desktop and mobile. This streamlines the customer experience and helps grow conversion rates.

4. Going for enterprise-grade SLA solutions

A service-level agreement (SLA) defines the level of reliability and service expected by a customer from a supplier. The better the SLA, the better. For example, a CTO would prefer to choose a solution that promises network availability of at least 99.99%, or even 99.9999%. The more nines, the less potential downtime.

As for Uploadcare, it has 99.99%, or four nines. That means that the maximum possible downtime is 4.38 minutes per month. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll happen, but if any breaches occur, the provider is responsible for compensating for the downtime.

Use Uploadcare for Free During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Uploadcare provides a performance-centered infrastructure and next-gen image and video management services that help you address all issues regarding digital experience optimization.

Starting April 15, we’re making Uploadcare available to businesses and developers worldwide free of charge for the next three months (or six months at half the usual price). After that, we’ll evaluate the situation and decide whether we will extend the offer. 

To flatten the curve, we can also offer personalized on-demand discounts for selected businesses. We’re doing this to support online business continuity in the context of large scale work-from-home initiatives designed to combat the spread of the virus. Coronavirus is a global issue, so the offer is available worldwide.

Use the maximum plan free for three months or get 50% for six months

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