Today's websites are usually high performance and sophisticated transactional systems. They allow your audience to investigate new products and services, compare you to your competitors, tailor your offering to their needs and follow through with conversion into a customer. Existing customers can review their account, whether that is existing transactions such as new policies or purchases, update their details and interests, or buy additional products.
The challenges faced in supporting this are:
- providing round-the-clock availability (for perhaps 20h per day or higher),
- ensuring that all parts of the site responds in a timely manner, especially the uniquely generated and transaction content,
- monitoring the site to measure that it is behaving properly,
- managing interfaces to 3rd party systems
- having machanisms to allow application and infrastructure upgrades with minimum interruption,
- having backups and disaster recovery to cover the end-to-end software stack, not just the database,
- protecting the system from abuse from denial of service attacks to data theft.
Most demanding websites, by which we usually mean websites where a significant loss of revenue or customer goodwill can be attributed to a site outage, have to tackle many or all of these challenges.
These can be addressed in a similar fashion to call-centre challenges, an namely appropriate technical architecture, good procedures and a thorough understanding of typical system behaviour.