Cinema chains across the UK were feeling the force of thousands of Star Wars fans on Monday morning when tickets for “Star Wars 7 : The Force awakens” went on sale. Odeon and Vue Cinemas were both criticised on social media for suffering website failures due to the high demand for Star Wars tickets.
In a way, this type of failure should only be expected. Cinema websites often use large graphics, which although attractive can adversely affect website performance. Compared to the performance of the average UK website, Cinema sites are often slower and have more third party links to ad-trackers and social media sites.
Trust IV monitors 600 UK websites each day and Cinema websites are frequently towards the bottom of our performance league.
Vue (8.8s) and CineWorld (4.5s) websites are particularly slow when compared to the average page response time for UK website pages (4.09s) according to our monitoring servers in Manchester, UK.
The time of the ticket sale may also have played a factor in the failure of these websites. At 8am a significant proportion of Internet users are commuting to work and consequently using mobile devices. Users on slower connections such as Office or Coffee Shop Wifi (rather than home Wifi) and users on 3G and 4G networks hold server connections open for longer and consume a disproportionate amount of resources when compared with users on faster connections.
The only way to prevent problems such as this is to test thoroughly and simulate realistic patterns of user behaviour over realistic connections. This testing will identify performance problems ahead of time, giving you time to rectify them before they become an embarrassment.