Planning for an Increase in Website Traffic

By Justin HittJuly 30

Many websites try to tell you how to increase your traffic, but very few show you how to plan for handling this increase. Unfortunately, you are just one good marketing campaign, inbound link, or media event away from a useless website that hungry visitors can't reach. Here's how to avoid being a victim to your own success.


You can handle an increase in website traffic without adding expensive content delivery networks to low volume websites. With the right website design you can avoid failing under pressure. This study is called web capacity planning, here are some basics.

  1. Start with how files are organized. Your dense specialized content (audio, video, documents) needs to be separated from the beginning. This allows you to easily implement load balancing or content delivery.
  2. Organize your files right now. Put your images (including PDF) files in /images/ and your media (including audio and video) in /media/, rather than spread all over your site.

At the point your site needs more bandwidth, you can redirect either the whole directory to a DNS RR load sharing or CDN Load Balancing environment. If you have enough traffic to front end with an F5 BigIp, then you can rewrite /images/ or /media/ to a separate server pool. Sounds simple enough (and it can be if you plan ahead.)
A little planning goes a long way. Later you can decide on media servers named [images.domain.tld] or [media.domain.tld] to quickly move this load off your main content systems. This model isolates link and image theft controls to a single directory tree (preventing unauthorized content use helps sites run faster.) On my servers I do the same for /common/ which includes all CSS and Javascript.
If you are feeling spunky, you can even use a pool of thin servers to deliver images, while static (or dynamic) content comes from a different location. With the right website design you get all the flexibility and choice. Plus you'll get more from the hardware you have. But doesn't this all cost money, slow down website design, and require a little testing?
Yes, doing a little web capacity planning up front will save you hundreds of thousands in lost potential. You will avoid costly server moves, plus much more. Unfortunately many companies will just take the local IT departments word that all this will work, rather than auditing their configuration for high traffic.
This kind of design, no matter what kind of assets you are using, helps quickly segment parts of your site without having to rewrite code, change design, or rebuild your website. You can handle spikes in traffic with lower cost on-demand CDN or low cost servers added into your configuration. This kind of planning can save you hundreds of thousands in headaches (for a high volume website.)
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Justin Hitt

About Justin Hitt

A business analyst who specializing in sales generating marketing copy. Author, copywriter, and publisher of newsletters that help clients transform business relationships into profits guaranteed. Reach him by Fax at +1 (877) 486-8461

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