Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with it two of the biggest shopping holidays of the year – Black Friday and its virtual counterpart, Cyber Monday. Last Cyber Monday was by far the most successful, with over $ 10 billion spent worldwide as millions of people flocked online to take advantage of the epic deals and discounts.
As you might expect, this is a critical time for e-commerce platforms. There is a lot of work involved in getting websites ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and if it is underprepared, a retailer risks missing out on a potentially big sales day.
So how do web developers and engineers get websites ready for this year’s biggest sales? Below we divide it into 7 steps.
1. Stiffening to traffic peaks
Most providers will see huge increases in web traffic in the long weekend after Thanksgiving – especially if they have launched a solid marketing campaign in the days (or weeks) before. But what happens if your website can’t handle it? Servers may be overwhelmed, performance may suffer, or the entire site may even crash. And when customers spend up to $ 12 million a minute, downtime could not be more expensive.
So engineers need to make sure that their sites can handle large amounts of traffic. This involves contacting web hosts to find out about traffic constraints, upgrade servers, and possibly have backup servers on standby (just in case).
Set up cyber security measures
With phishing schemes, scam calls, and suspicious emails abounding left and right, people are more skeptical than ever about sharing their private information (such as bank and card information). In fact, about half of all users in the United States bypass online shopping out of worries about data and privacy.
So what are you doing? How do you assure your customers that their information is in good hands?
As it turns out, there are several steps you can take.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certifications are a great way to demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity. By encrypting communications between a site’s servers and its users’ browsers, SSLs help engineers protect data from prying eyes.
Apart from SSL certifications, other defense measures include setting up firewalls, captchas and secure checkout badges. Many developers will also create banners with well-known customers, clients and / or press releases to help increase the credibility of their site.
Want to know more about keeping data safe? Learn the basics in our Introduction to Cyber Security course.
3. Optimize for mobile devices
Today, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. Last year, mobile customers accounted for 40% of all holiday sales, generating over $ 3.6 billion. This means that engineers now have to make sure that their websites are optimized for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
So how do you optimize a website for mobile?
First, make sure it responds. Responsive websites automatically adapt to the user’s environment (eg screen size, platform, orientation, etc.), enabling a seamless cross-device experience. To learn more, check out our Learn Responsive Design course.
Responsiveness is also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The more responsive your site is, the better it will rank on search engines like Google – increasing visibility and potentially generating more traffic.
4. Cut load times
How long are you willing to wait for a website to load? Chances are you lose interest after a few seconds and turn somewhere else.
Data show that 25% of users will leave a web page that does not load within four seconds. Mobile users are even more likely to jump ship, with 74% leaving after five seconds. And once they are gone, these users are unlikely to return.
Fortunately, there are several steps developers take to reduce loading times (and appease impatient users). These steps include:
- Compress or resize images
- Caching of web pages
- Cutting unnecessary plugins
5. Streamline UI / UX
The design of your website is just as important as its responsiveness and loading speeds. The harder it is for users to find what they are looking for on your site, the more likely they are to target one of your competitors.
To prevent this, engineers simplify their site’s user interface (UI), create menus, and streamline search and payment processes. The easier it is to navigate your site, the better the user experience (UX), making it easier to attract and retain customers.
6. Test alt
The last thing you want is to miss out on sales due to unexpected mistakes or errors. So in the days (or weeks) leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Web Devs will test a site’s functionality, responsiveness, load times, etc. to make sure everything’s ready to go.
7. Analyze data
This step comes technically after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it is still a key element in the process.
If you are familiar with data science, then you know that a site’s data is a treasure trove of information about its users. With tools like SQL and Python, engineers can learn more about their audiences, including their interests and online behavior. These insights can then be used to fine-tune the site and offer users a better experience over the next holiday.
Want to know more about analyzing data? Check out courses like Analyze Data With SQL and Analyze Financial Data With Python. Or, for a more comprehensive approach to computer science, try our Data Scientist or Data Analyst Career Paths.
The above steps go a long way toward getting sites ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Accessibility practices, which we cover in courses like Learn HTML and Learn Intermediate CSS, are another great way to maximize your audience. There are also tools like Angular and React that allow you to create single page applications (SPAs) that reduce loading times and provide a hassle-free user experience.
Are you ready to learn more about Website Optimization? We have a complete catalog of web development courses. And to celebrate Cyber Monday, we offer a discount on Codecademy Pro – so you can access our entire catalog (and more) with a 50% discount.
Ready to get started? Sign up now!