What’s that, your website is down again? Well we wouldn’t want to panic you, but according to globally renowned tech consultancy Gartner, that outage could be costing your business in excess of £4,000 per minute (as an average).
Ok, there are a lot of variables to consider here, including the size of your business. Potential costs and losses from your website going down snowball the longer the outage lasts. If it’s a temporary glitch that rights itself in just a few minutes, you'll probably get away relatively unscathed.
But if it’s more of a major issue where you have to call out engineers before you’re back online again, you’re likely looking at a big financial hit. 81% of firms surveyed by Gartner say that a single hour without their website functioning costs them close to a quarter of a million pounds (US $300,000).
Why so expensive? Because for many businesses these days, their website is their business. If it goes down, you can’t make sales. Plus, you’re likely to lose even more business because every ‘bounce’ is a potential customer who will now look elsewhere, and may well not bother returning. Oh, and bounces harm your SEO, too, so you’ll be less visible online.
You also lose the confidence and trust of existing customers who might be trying to get in touch with a query or an issue. If your staff rely on an online platform to work, you lose productivity. And all of this is without even mentioning the cost of getting the system up and running again.
According to research by UK-based connectivity provider Beaming, UK businesses clocked almost 150 million hours of internet downtime in a single year, with a staggering cost of £12bn in lost productivity. That’s not the kind of issue anyone can afford to brush under the carpet.
What these figures also show is that website glitches are very common. Are they just one of those unavoidable downsides to technology that we have to learn to put up with? Not at all. There’s no reason why any business should have to put up with routine outages to their website these days. Here’s what you can do to avoid them.
Every website is ultimately run from a physical server somewhere. The business of renting out server space to run websites on is known as hosting. You may have heard of big name hosting companies like Bluehost and GoDaddy. They’re hugely popular with SMEs in particular because the hosting they offer is cheap and cheerful, with a business model based on dividing server resources between multiple clients.
This shared server model works well for smaller websites and reduces costs for the end user. But it is also a leading cause of server-side website issues. Imagine all the sites hosted on the same individual server suddenly getting a spike in traffic at the same time - what happens? The available resources can easily be overwhelmed, you get bottlenecks in data transfers, and the end result is your website stops working.
One of the big drawbacks of shared server hosting is that you do not have full control over server-side performance for your website. If another site on the same server tries to upload a massive batch of video files that eat up all available bandwidth, the performance of your site suffers.
The alternative is to opt for dedicated server hosting, also known as managed hosting. In this model, you get an entire server all to yourself, meaning the performance of your site is not at the mercy of what other server cohabitees get up to, and you get more resources. This means that managed hosting offers better uptime - many providers (including us) guarantee 100%.
Building and running your own DIY website is pretty straightforward these days, even if you have no technical know-how in website development whatsoever. As noted above, hosting is readily available and cheap (if you don’t mind sharing a server), and similarly, there are countless drag-and-drop website builders and content management (CMS) platforms out there that essentially let you rock up and start building your own website from a standing start.
These options are great - WordPress, for example, by far and away the biggest CMS out there, is responsible for an astonishing 40% of all websites currently on the net. That’s a sign of a great product if ever there was one. But as much as self-serve website builders and CMS have helped to democratise web development and allow millions of businesses to get online who once upon a time were priced out of it, they’re not without their problems.
Anyone who has used the likes of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla etc will know that, while you can start basic, there is a technical learning curve if you want to achieve the best results. Most of this is to do with all the different themes, plug-ins, extensions and so on that are available to add new features and functionality to a site.
One of the most common causes of website failures is incorrectly configured plug-ins or trying to run different extensions that aren’t compatible. For the non-specialist, while DIY CMS platforms are on the face of things highly accessible, all of these extras can be a complete minefield. Especially if you have ambitions to ramp up what your website can do, there’s still very much room for seeking help from professional web developers.
We’ve already mentioned managed hosting as one solution to avoiding server-side issues with your website. But you don’t have to stop there. If you want, you can outsource the running of your entire site, from content management to technical support, to a specialist third-party provider.
As we’ve noted in this article, running a website yourself is very popular these days. But it comes with risks, it’s easy for problems to snowball if you don’t have technical expertise in website management, and it can take up a lot of your time - time you could be spending on other parts of your business.
Managed website services like those we offer at Key Element take all that weight off your shoulders. As well as professional development, managed hosting and technical support, we also guarantee performance and uptime at fixed levels as part of our SLAs. In other words, it’s our job to keep your site online and address any and all issues that occur.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you up your game on uptime and offer the best possible digital experience for customers, colleagues and partners.