Or maybe just most of us!
The 2016 US Presidential Election was without a doubt the most aggressive and eventful election in history. Even though it’s finally over, most of us will spend the next few days analyzing every aspect of it. Apart from the actual results, what excited us the most was the web performance of various election-related websites on Election Day.
More so than previous years, campaign teams of the running parties and news companies extensively used the online channels and social media to showcase their agenda and communicate with their voters. To see who how these online channels behave under amplified expectations, we started some AlertSite performance monitors on popular news sites, candidate and government website of key states.
What Did We See?
We monitored full page loads of these sites from 4 American cities – NYC, Washington DC, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Apart from some minor glitches, almost all the website pulled through the traffic onslaught.
CNN.com did see high response time as the polls started closing and the pressure started increasing. But, it gracefully managed the traffic without any hiccups.
Why Is Web Performance Important for These Sites?
When we posted a blog on the importance of web performance during election season, some skeptics asked us why these sites should care about web perf?! Apart from bad publicity and social media backlash, poor web performance had some serious implications with respect to the elections.
Even though the web performance of these sites had nothing to do with the actual election results, the slowness of a crashing website or app during such delicate times could have implied unpreparedness and sensitivity on the news channel’s or state government’s part.
Also, the Elections happened right after the massive DDoS attack triggered by Mirai botnet on October 24th. As we all are still recovering from the IoT-related attack, failing websites during Election times could have easily raised false alarms of another cyber-attack.
On the other hand, delayed responses from these crucial websites could look like withholding information or delaying to provide information the end users – our voters – were desperately voting on.
Blue or Red – They All Stayed Green!
We also monitored state government websites and the federal government election site to see if they could withstand the surge of patriotic traffic. These websites don’t get a large number of visitors throughout the year, but events like this call for proactive plans to be ready for massive traffic and even graceful degradations in case of failures. Apart from some delayed responses, everything looked green for these states!
The Candidate Websites
How can we talk about Elections without talking about the candidates? Here’s the full page response time and availability data we saw for Trump and Clinton websites respectively.
Not Everything Was Rosy
As the election results started unfolding, 'Move to Canada' started trending on Google searches. Americans started rushing to the Canadian Immigration website to check requirements to move to Canada. However, the Canadian Government didn’t seem ready to accept this sudden surge of interest. Unfortunately, the immigration website crashed leaving thousands on unhappy American vent out their frustration on Twitter.
If you are feeling Déjà vu, you are not alone. The exact same sequence of events happened in March when ‘Move to Canada’ started trending after certain Super Tuesday, crashing the immigration website.
What Do We Learn From This?
Hindsight is 20-20. Constant vigilance is the solution. Knowing your area of business, peak traffic season, and predicting unexpected traffic surges is the key. Implementing correct load and stress testing practices to test the scalability and stability of your web servers under a massive load can help you fix such problems proactively and plan for the future better. In production, proactive monitoring practices will help you see your website’s performance as seen by your end users and take necessary actions to mitigate issues, if any, before they impact your end users.
Want to talk more about how we tracked these websites’ performance? Engage with us in conversation @AlertSite and @SmartBear.