I first started using the Internet in 1997 and had an ADSL line installed by the following year. From that moment, I was hooked on the possibilities of this incredible medium. Of course, since then it’s become accepted as an essential part of everyday life and as commonplace as any public utility.
The problem is, these days we all expect the Internet to do be able to do everything. So as someone running a business that has to deliver on those expectations, I watched the performance of the Olympic Ticketing website with great interest – and a wry smile.
The site met with bad press after endless complaints about speed and the frustration of empty baskets. Thousands of visitors asked how something that should be so simple could perform so badly. As a customer, that’s a fair question, but for anyone involved in running the site, the answer is far from straightforward.
With 26 Olympic sports taking place over 16 days and incorporating 38 different spectator venues, the scale and logistical complexity of selling tickets was immense. As blocks of tickets were released, they had to be uploaded correctly to the site and fans had to find them. Tickets needed to be reserved in baskets while people checked availability of relatives and friends, and then the site had to process the transaction. All this while 25 million people (5 August 2012) were trying to do the same thing.
We assume the capabilities of the Internet to be infinite but in reality, website performance is limited by the level of support and resource that can be committed. For the Olympic site, that meant server capacity and adequate bandwidth, but critically it also meant product – because without tickets, the process collapses.
In our work with Sage customers, we always aim to deliver ecommerce websites that surpass expectation but occasionally customers can be disappointed that a particular feature that seems so easy to implement, is way beyond their budget. Or when their site is finished, they’re frustrated it can’t perform a certain action. The fact is, whether your site is selling Olympic tickets or electrical components, its capabilities are affected by a multitude of factors – many of which are beyond the developer’s control.