18th March 2018 Micro News Post

Snow Days impact school websites in a BIG way, and it's important we’re ready!

When snow sweeps across the country, the online presence of education providers take a pretty huge hit. It doesn’t seem obvious at first, I mean, why would it? But snow forecasts means acknowledgement, plan and finally action to ensure the host servers that our education provers rely on are able to handle the approaching hit - so, what is this “hit”?

The “hit” is a huge spike in site traffic, visitors, page views, requests.

On 28th February 2018 between 6AM and 7:30AM, just this happened. Snow swept the nation and parents started wondering and wishing whether their sons or daughters school would be closed. This means visiting the schools website — but not just once, they are on a missions to refresh the page as many time as they need to until the answer is revealed.

The average day

On the average day, between the hours of 6AM and 7:30AM, a secondary school website takes around 59 page views. This is ‘page views’ not ‘sessions’, so if you visit a websites homepage and then continue to navigate through to another page, that is classed as 2 page views and 1 session.

This may seem a fairly low number of page views, but remember this is not a website that is selling through eCommerce or providing a regularly used service. A school website’s main focus is updating parents and students with information about day-to-day school life, updates and news. With that being said, let’s now turn things up…

A snow day

This is where things get pretty crazy! If you’re not following the weather or news as a web host system administrator for education, snow can seriously catch you off guard. To a point where server failure would almost be guaranteed, with wondering parents being faced with 500 server error pages. Something that obviously CANNOT happen, of all days!

So how crazy do things get? During the course of Black Friday and Cyber Mondays, online shops generally see a 100 to 200% increase in traffic. On 28th February, the school websites I host and maintain, saw traffic spikes as high as 15600% and as small as 6000% individually…. No, that was not a typo. I saw spikes across the board as big as +15600% compared to that of the average traffic expected between the hours of 6AM and 7:30AM, during a normal weeks school day.

school website traffic spike

The above true data shows one secondary schools analytics stats.

But this didn’t happen only on Wednesday 28th February, this also happened to mirror onto 1st and 2nd March 2018. Nothing like being kept alert. And here we are again, 18th March 2018 and the snow is building on a Sunday evening — time to prep server and expect further spikes.

Credits: Photo by CBX on Unsplash