By Claire West

The website monitoring and load testing specialist, Site Confidence, an NCC Group company, is urging organisations to prepare carefully for new website launches in 2011 to avoid damaging outages after they go live.

In recent years, a number of high-profile launch day crashes by some of the world’s biggest brands have caused damage to both their finances and reputations. Giants such as Nokia, Apple, Nectar and the French and UK governments have all experienced major problems and lengthy periods of downtime soon after their websites went live — highlighting the risks of poor preparation.

Many factors were to blame in the failure of these websites, including poor website monitoring, sluggish download speeds and insubstantial load capacity. In addition to these issues, organisations need to be aware of the importance of ongoing website performance. Research by the Aberdeen Group has shown a one second delay in download speeds results in 11 per cent fewer page views, a 16 per cent decrease in customer satisfaction and a seven per cent loss in conversions.

Customer service also requires careful preparation, as consumers often switch to rival brands if they are unsatisfied. The recent snow caused major problems for retailers such as Amazon, as customers experienced long call waiting times following delays in deliveries.

To help companies prepare, Site Confidence has launched a new white paper that provides a guide to the core questions that should be asked to prevent such problems. 55 Killer Questions Before you Launch your New Website comprises 25 sections that give expert advice covering all stages of website planning, from the architecture and foundations, to security against cyber crime and marketing provision.

Bob Dowson, director at Site Confidence, said: “Companies looking to capitalise on sales through a high-profile website launch need to protect their financial interests as well as their reputation. This process is complex, and preparation and planning should be meticulous.

“With the risk of cyber attack now at an all-time high following the recent campaign against Wikileaks, it is more important than ever for companies to ensure they are protected before they launch. For example, DDoS attacks, which flood websites with page requests beyond their capacities, crashed the websites of giants Mastercard and PayPal, and highlight the importance of having a flexible, scalable architecture that can handle high levels of traffic.

“Comprehensive load testing is therefore essential before the launch of any website, as firewalls and software protection are useless in this scenario.

“It is important that companies appreciate the value of all areas covered in this white paper, as these processes must operate in unison in order for any website to run efficiently. The paper is designed to provide a complete guide for ensuring a smooth take off, providing expert insight that is broken down into simple, easy-to-follow areas.”

The full version of the white paper can be found here: