Stopping Black Friday Outages, Before They Start – Part 1 – Web Apps

No Downtime - Web AppsFor some online retailers the post Black Thursday eve, post Black Friday, post Cyber Monday analysis will be a time of joy and dreaming about a repeat in Black Friday 2013. For others it will be a tired “it was a perfect storm” excuse  and  finger pointing starting on Tuesday morning Nov. 27, 212. Why? Because invariably there are going to be websites that crash and burn during these peak days in the Black Friday 2012 online retail season. So, lets jump ahead, Back to the Future-style, and provide a few advance diagnostics that these soon-to-be, crash-and-burn online retail websites could have done in 5-minutes to save their 2012 seasons – before the big online shopping days actually arrive.

New, cool web apps: Not everything that glitters is gold

That web app you put on your website sure was cool and free, but… it it wasn’t ready for prime time. It turns out many new third-party app providers offered their new, cool tools at a low price, or for free. They did it to acquire mind share and to drive up adoption rates to scare up venture capital funding, or to capture market share. However, as a result of their rapid growth strategy and limited cash resources the web app company struggled to maintain the processing power necessary to serve the app to your website.

During the Black Friday 2012 and holiday season these latest-greatest web apps were tested to the nth degree and for one of them the web app performance couldn’t keep up to its own hype. Their servers were overloaded and as a result the web app performance was poor and in turn your website also was slowed down decreasing your conversion rates. If you would have kept an eye on that new web app during the holiday season with a browser-driven monitoring service that detects slow downs and shows the page speed trends of individual page elements you would’ve known that new, cool web app would slow the website down and you would’ve pulled it off the page. But you didn’t have the right kind of monitoring in place and now you’ve got some ‘splain to do. As it is, all you can do now is check the website to see if a third-party web app is slowing the website down with this free instant test here, click on “Detailed Results”, then click the “Performance” tab to send yourself a report on the top 10% slowest element son the website to help you understand what the sullen faces are all about on Tuesday.

Killing me softly with Zombie Web Apps

It turns out it wasn’t the occasional “bad actor” web app, but the overwhelming number of web apps, the zombie app horde of “average” performing web apps combined with heavier than expected website traffic that gradually broke down your website’s performance.   It turns out you didn’t need all of those relatively slow moving web apps, like widgets and social media buttons, on every single page of your website after-all. You were trying to provide social “pathways” with “share” widgets, improve “trust perception” with seals, and improve interactivity with chat functionality, but what you actually did was spawn a bloated crawling mass of third-party DNS look-ups, SSL slowdowns, and slow loading functionality. If you’d have run some free instant tests here, clicked on “Detailed Results”, then clicked the “Hosts” tab you’d have seen the growing mass of zombie web apps and how they were combining into an all-consuming website eating mob.

Click to read on -> Stopping Black Friday Outages, Before They Start – Part 2 – DNS & HTML


Want to skip ahead to part 3 of this series? See Stopping Black Friday Outages, Before They Start – Part 3 – Downtime.




Brad is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Dotcom-Monitor. He has been working in the tech space since the days of the dotcom-boom. Brad is an avid triathlete and marathon runner, wine enthusiast, and family man. You may spot him at any number of web performance conferences across the country, either as a speaker or at a trade show booth representing Dotcom-Monitor. Brad is also the organizer of the Web Performance - Minneapolis/St. Paul Meetup Group. Catch Brad on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

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