About scaling businesses
Scaling is one of the most important factors when it comes to very successful businesses. Take a look at Apple, Microsoft or Google. There's one aspect about these companies which has made them the tech giants they are today. That aspect is the ability to scale their business to enormous sizes.
Most people do not think about scaling their business when they start a business. They simply see an opportunity to either do something they like for money or do something that they think offers some value to other people which are willing to trade that something to money.
Sometimes that something (product/service) can be so valuable to other people or businesses that the demand quickly overpowers the supply. This raises a problem: How can a new business quickly respond to increased demand?
New businesses are rarely prepared to take on unusually high traffic due to high demand.
Online business, e-commerce and scaling
Nowadays most businesses work in the online domain or at the very least have operations in the online domain. It is very uncommon to see a business which does not have a website. Generally speaking, we can divide online businesses in to two categories:
1. E-commerce: Online stores sell their products or services through an e-commerce platform like Shopify or Woocommerce with Wordpress.
2. Web services: Businesses offer services or information with value to people as an online media. These services can be anything from informative blogs to a news media like New York times.
Most businesses offer either e-commerce or web services in one form or another.
Most of the times new businesses start out small and offer either e-commerce or web services. At this stage not much consideration is put in the quality or future of web services for their business. Companies think that a simple Wordpress site or a simple e-commerce platform is enough to get the job done.
At first, this is enough. Simple Wordpress installations and e-commerce platforms work pretty well considering they are fairly simple and quick to set up. However when these businesses grow and get traction their web services start to attract more and more users.
Problems with legacy websites and high concurrent traffic
Nowadays websites can receive daunting concurrent traffic due to influencer marketing, advertisement campaigns or just due to search engine optimization (SEO). High traffic on legacy websites brings many problems because of the nature of dynamically rendered legacy sites (See this post for more info).
These problems are only evident when the concurrent traffic on your business's website increases. When you have a poorly optimized legacy website the biggest problem that arises is the fact that your website becomes very slow to load. This is a big problem for your business. Slow load times lead to increased bounce rates and decreased conversions which lead to decreased revenue.
Most average website users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. For e-commerce sites the time is 2 seconds. Google sets a goal for all their sites to load in less than 0.5 seconds.
In the worst case scenario your website will attract so much concurrent traffic that it crashes the server or becomes very, very slow to load. This means that no one is able to access your website or make any purchases on your e-commerce platform until the server administrator has restarted the server or resolved the issues with the server.
Legacy site worst case examples
There are simply too many worst case scenarios. All of them could have been prevented if these companies and organizations had built their web services with JAMstack.
Why are companies still building their web services with legacy technologies? They simply don't know any better. There are better ways to develop the web, like the JAMstack.
Around 35% of websites currently run on Wordpress. Wordpress started in 2003 and was built on technologies that were created in the 90's.
Why are legacy websites slow?
They use outdated technologies and architectural models
They depend on unnecessary and outdated dependencies
Outdated technologies and bad dependencies act as a bottle neck for your web services and lead to slow load times.
Higher traffic requires increasing amounts of server resources which slow the process of dynamically building the HTML served to users.
Some of the legacy technologies are just simply hard to scale ie. Wordpress
How can I scale legacy websites?
By increasing your server resources and changing server configurations
Using reverse proxies with web servers
Using fairly complex load balancers
Sometimes you can't due to the fact that dynamically rendered websites require complex processes and dependencies to build the final HTML
In some cases no amount of server resources can make your site any faster due to badly optimized themes and bad dependencies
As a last resort to optimize Wordpress sites you can hire an expert to make a custom theme from scratch. This still does not make your website truly scalable and works only to an extend.
Building your company's web services on legacy technologies like Wordpress is the equivalent of starting a construction business with only a hammer and some nails. If you want to make sure that your website or e-commerce platform is future-proof you should not use any legacy technologies and look for other options.
Most of the problems related to scaling in legacy technologies can be resolved by building your business with the JAMstack. If you want to learn more about why JAMstack will help your business to scale you should read more about it on our blog.
In the next part on scaling themed blog posts we'll tell you why JAMstack is essential for scaling your business.