We built it; they came...
The announcement of plans to redevelop Selhurst Park was always going to be a big deal for Crystal Palace Fans. Steve Parish, the CPFC Chairman was outlining a vision for creating a new home worthy of the Club, supporters and community, a celebration of 112 years in South London. The anticipation of the official announcement was huge.
The new plans didn’t disappoint. Led by a stunning 360-degree tour of the new stadium from a pitch-side vista, the new stand is ambitious, exciting and will provide a dramatic new entrance to the club’s ground that will capture hearts and minds for the future.
Our brief was to make sure that when the news was released there was a robust and responsive landing website in place that could provide information, links to the 360-degree tour, display images and allow interested parties to get in touch to discuss the plans. And of course, we needed to handle the website traffic.
With interest ramping up not just from fans, but also media outlets around the world, we recognised that when the embargo was lifted and the site went live, the number of concurrent visits to the site would spike dramatically; and if the site was unable to handle the load, it would have a major impact on the stadium launch, both from a perception point of view as well as the inability for users to get the information they needed.
Here at Filter, we’re experienced in high-traffic sites. We’ve worked with international clients across a wide range of industries, and in the majority of cases, we’ve relaunched websites and run digital campaigns that have had high levels of PR surrounding them, meaning that we’ve needed to be prepared for traffic payloads well in excess of normal operations.
We know that you need to get the basics right – page weight should be as small as possible, images compressed and optimised to within an inch of their lives, and a forensic determination to reduce any render-blocking resources. But the key to high traffic is caching.
We use WPEngine to host many of the sites we work on for clients. We were using them before they opened up an office in Europe, and when they did, we were able to forge a great relationship with the team here in the UK. It also means we understand the platform and how to get the best out of it. We do of course use their Enterprise services, so we get the benefits of additional compute and database resources than on standard shared plans. But we take advantage of their caching platform and CDN to maximum effect.
That meant that at launch time, we were fully prepared for the onslaught – sitting watching traffic spike, monitoring availability and response times as a wave of visitors come crashing down on our meticulously crafted code. We used New Relic for an in-depth view into real-time analytics of how the site was holding up, and were constantly checking Google Analytics to understand what users were doing on the site – our event tracking, goal setups, and tags paid dividends as we were able to give the CPFC team a running commentary on the activations that were happening.
Eventually, the traffic calmed down and we were able to sit back and reflect on the positive outcomes from the launch. We’d prepared so well in advance that reporting the news to the board the next day was a breeze – automated dashboards gave us ready-made stats, and we were able to quickly and easily identify referral changes, demographic data, and provide details of signups and feedback going directly into the CRM data warehouse.
Significant events with high levels of traffic can be an issue if your platform isn’t ready for it. It can be a painful process for stakeholders and users alike, and can have a negative impact on a brand if you get it wrong. So make sure you adequately plan, set your benchmarks, load-test and then, just for luck, load-test again.
If you need help with managing high-traffic launches, or having a feeling that your platform isn’t up to it, get in touch for a chat. One of our key strengths is in reviewing existing digital estates and providing feedback and recommendations to ensure you’re fit for the future. You can reach us here.