Let this be a lesson to all of us in 2014.
Just like every other year, 2013 had its fair share of website crashes. While there are many reasons why a website might fail, the most likely issue is the site’s inability to handle incoming traffic (i.e. load).
Let’s look at some of the most memorable website crashes of 2013 that were caused by traffic overload.
#7. My Bloody Valentine
In the end, most of their fans likely got hold of the new album within a day or two and the band, which clearly has a loyal fanbase, probably didn’t end up loosing any sales due to the crash.
#6. Mercedes F1 Team
Mercedes F1 team came up with a fairly clever plan to promote their web content. In february, they told fans on Twitter that the faster they retweeted a certain message, the faster the team would reveal sneak preview images of their 2013 Formula One race car.
It worked a little too well. While waiting for the magic number of retweets to happen, F1 fans all over the world kept accessing the Mercedes F1 web page in hopes of being the first to see the new car. Naturally, they brought the website down.
"You guys are LITERALLY killing our website!" Mercedes F1 said via Twitter.
#5. NatWest / Royal Bank of Scotland
Mercedes F1 and My Bloody Valentine likely benefited from the PR created by their respective crashes, but there was certainly nothing positive to come out of the NatWest/RBS bank website crash. A crash which left customers without access to their money!
In December, NatWest/RBS saw the second website crash in a week when a DDOS attack took them down.
It’s not the first DDOS attack aimed at a bank and it’s probably not the last one either.
#4. Sachin Tendulkar crash
One of Indias most popular Cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, also known as the “God of Cricket”, retired in 2013 with a bang! He did so by crashing local ticketing site, kyazoonga.com.
When tickets for his farewell game at Wankhede in Mumbai became available, kyazoonga.com saw a record breaking 19.7 million hits in the first hour, after which the website was promptly brought down.
Fans were screaming in rage on Twitter and hashtag #KyaZoonga made it to the top of the Twitter trending list.
#3. UN Women - White Ribbon campaign
It may be unfair to say that this website crash could have been avoided, but it’s definitely memorable.
On November 25th - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - Google wanted to acknowledge the occasion by linking to the UN Women website from the search giant's own front page.
As a result, the website started to see a lot more traffic than they’ve been designed for and started to load slowly, even crashing entirely.
Google had given the webmasters at unwomen.org a heads up and the webmasters did take action to beef up their capacity, but it was just too difficult to estimate how much traffic they would actually get.
In the end, the do-no-evil web giant and unwomen.org worked together and managed through the day, partly by redirecting the link to other UN Websites.
Jaya Jiwatram, the web officer for UN Women, called it a win. And frankly, that’s all that really matters when it comes to raising awareness for important matters.
#2. The 13 victims of Super Bowl XLVII
As reported by Yottaa.com, no fewer than 13 of the companies that ran ads during Super Bowl saw their websites crash just as they needed them the most.
If anything in this world is ever going to be predictable, a large spike of traffic when you show your ad to a Super Bowl audience must be one those things.
It did recover quite nicely in the last weeks of 2013 and is now actually serving customers. If not exactly as intended, at least well enough for a total of 2 million americans to enroll.
But without hesitation, the technical and political debacle surrounding healthcare.gov makes it the most talked about and memorable website crash in 2013.
Our friends over at PointClick did a great summary of the Healthcare.gov crash. Download their ebook for the full recap: The Six Critical Mistakes Made with Healthcare.gov
There’s really nothing new or surprising about the website crashes of 2013. Websites have been developed this way for years – often with the same results. But there are now new methodologies and tools changing all that.
It isn’t like it used to be; performance testing isn’t hard, time consuming or expensive anymore. One just needs to recognize that load testing is something that needs to be done early and continuously throughout the development process. It’s not optional anymore. Unfortunately, it seems these sites found that out the hard way. A few of which will likely learn the lesson again in 2014.
Our prediction for 2014 is more of the same. However, mainstream adoption of developmental methodologies such as Continuous Integration and Delivery, which advocate for early and continuous performance testing, are quickly gaining speed.
A Google search trend report for the term, DevOps, clearly shows the trend. If the search trends are any indication of the importance being given to proactive performance testing by major brands, app makers and SaaS companies, we might only see half the number of super bowl advertiser site crashes in 2014 as we did last year.
Update following Superbowl XLVIII: According to GeekBeat, the Maserati website crashed after their ad featured their new Maserati Ghibli. And monitoring firm, OMREX, found two of the advertiser websites had uptime performance issues during the game - Coca-Cola and Dannon Oikos.