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Black Friday - Website falls under weight of online users

Are you a major retailer? How did your website fare this Black Friday?

Now, I’m no rocket scientist but I’m pretty sure the Board of Directors at major retailers have technical advisers, so how is it that at the busiest retail time of the year, a major player like John Lewis has the wheels fall off its website’s cart?

(Full credit to Argos, Debenhams and Currys, who managed to limp over the line…. ….just).


  • Perhaps the board wasn't advised of the potential problems of large user numbers, although I’m pretty it should be on the board's list of things to check before Christmas, never mind just before Black Friday!
  • Perhaps the board was advised and ignored that advice? This is unlikely…
  • Maybe the board was advised, but then did not have the appropriate resources in to ensure the robustness and performance of their websites?

I assume it’s the last one, as the first two simply shouldn’t be the case.

Assuming it is the last one, then where did it go wrong?

  • Could it be that the business did not anticipate the correct number of users?
  • Could it be that the business did not anticipate the correct number of users over an extended period?
  • Could it be that the business got its forecasts correct, but then the appropriate testing was not performed?
  • Could it be that the business got its forecasts correct, the testing performed was correct, but then the required appropriate infrastructure changes were not made correctly?

It's a real shame as John Lewis are a great brand and are at the top of their game when it comes to doing Christmas adverts which drive people to their website.

There could be a multitude of reasons, all of which could have been avoided if they’d got the right people in to do the job, at the right time.

Trust IV

We at Trust IV get involved at the requirements stage to ensure the business has thought about users, load and infrastructure. We insist on getting in early enough to not only prevent issues from occurring in the first place, but also to make sure there’s enough time to resolve any issues should they be found.

We advise as to the types of performance testing that are required, and assist in any solutions required to make a system perform at its best when it matters the most.

Most website users have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of the websites and why should they care? They click on something, they expect it to take them somewhere else, and fast. The minute it doesn’t, they lose interest and go to a different supplier's website. I know that's what I do.

You need to ensure you have the right people with the proper skills and experience, not only building and maintaining your infrastructure and environments, but especially testing it to make sure it does what everyone expects and needs it to do.

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