When our friends at Pivot Point Communications approached us about powering the Citi Open Tennis Tournament website, we were happy to partner up. When they mentioned that the development deadline was in 14 days and they had no clue how much traffic to prepare for, we were fired up. Talk about a challenge! Of course we were up to it.
In just two weeks, we took the site from Pivot Point’s design stage to full launch – pushing from zero to 8,000 daily views in a period of just 48 hours! At peak times today, we’re seeing over 1000 views per 15 minutes—that’s over one page view per second. (By comparison, most websites load in 2-3 seconds. By the time you clicked “go” and this page loaded, we had already served 1-2 pages.) In web terms, this is not a huge load. It certainly an impressive number, however, for a site which didn’t exist last Friday.
Here are a few things that helped us along.
The development process was fast-paced and collaborative. We worked closely with Pivot Point, prioritizing features for the short launch schedule. This process required us to be flexible on how we rolled out site features and conducted testing. Of course, we coded the most important public-facing pages first, and tested them on the live platform, and then rolled out additional features with the site up and running.
This live-launch roll out allowed the Citi Open fans access to basic info on an “ASAP” time frame – which they obviously wanted since 8,000 of them visited the page within the first couple of days of operation – yet still allowed us to plug in additional features on an ongoing basis.
Without knowing how many hits to prepare for, it was difficult to judge what kind of server resources we would need during the development phase. So, we opted to use a cloud server courtesy of our favorite hosting provider and a robust Content Delivery Network, courtesy of CloudFlare. The CDN allowed us to focus on content and features, acting as a web application firewall to help us mitigate any nefarious attacks while dampening the effects of spikes on the server.
Likewise, the flexibility of the cloud allowed us to instantly scale up as traffic grew, making possible for us to avoid having to move servers if site traffic grew too fast – the server simply grew with us. At the same time, we’ll be able to “scale down” equally fast in a week or two, when the tournament is over and the traffic goes down.
Of course it takes a team to succeed. Throughout this process (which is ongoing as we write this), the teams at Citi Open and Pivot Point Communications have been wonderful to work with. Both the design and technical teams have been outstanding. Everyone understands the need to act quickly, the reasons for some of the limits we need to impose, and the importance of valuing each other’s expertise and opinion.
Certain inevitable changes at the beginning of the process meant that the development schedule was further compressed; with a one-week development schedule, there are plenty of functionality limitations—which sometimes translate to more people-time. Here is exactly where a good team makes all the difference, and we’re proud to be part of this team.
We love a challenge, and we especially loved this one. Pivot Point designed a beautiful website with well-planned strategy and marketing. The high-speed development and uncertain traffic provided an interesting puzzle for us. We had the site fully functional within 14 days and the cloud server is easily handling the load.
We say: Who’s next? Bring it on. And read on for updates as the tournament continues.
P.S. Special thanks goes to Holly Harper, who helped us write this article and keeps us on our toes about blogging our successes.