Having the site go down would be bad....
November 11, 2010 11:03 AM   Subscribe

We're sending out about 55,000 postcards to members of our organization. Those postcards direct them to visit a brand-new website for information on a new program. Assuming that all 55,000 members have at least some interest in the new program (which they likely do, or they wouldn't pay for the membership in the first place) what kind of website traffic should we be prepared to handle during that first week? What specific hosting package (vendor and package name) would you suggest we buy to best absorb the traffic for this project.
posted by anastasiav to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Traffic-wise, I seriously doubt you're going to see much of a spike, due to variances in mail delivery, people shuffling this off to later in the day/workweek, and etc. Most all providers will not have a problem. The only "gotcha" is if you're serving big pictures, or some streaming video or flash stuff.
It also sounds like you don't even have the web site up and running yet - is that a true statement?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2010


Scale also greatly depends on what's on that site. If it's just regular webpages and reasonable images, I wouldn't worry any more about it. You don't really have to worry that they will all go to the site at once.
posted by advicepig at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2010


Honestly even if you were sending out an electronic mailing to 55,000 people all at once, I wouldn't worry about it. With a postal mailing, I really wouldn't be concerned at all, unless you have direct hosted video on your home page or something.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:21 AM on November 11, 2010


It also sounds like you don't even have the web site up and running yet - is that a true statement?

Yes, that's true. The design is done. We're picking a hosting package now. The postcards are being mailed in early January.

It is just a few (actually, a total of six) regular web pages and reasonable images. No video or streaming or flash or scripts. But we're a nonprofit, and so we're trying to pick the least expensive hosting to get the job done. Our regular website only gets a few dozen hits a day, so this is a lot larger than what we're currently doing.

A volunteer recommended we go with this package (the "Deluxe" one) but I'm hesitant to use GoDaddy, and while the price seems reasonable we won't use the email addresses that come with the hosting.
posted by anastasiav at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2010


nooooooooooo to go daddy!
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've had 501c3 nonprofits sign up with free accounts at Dreamhost that could easily handle this.
posted by advicepig at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2010


nooooooooooo to go daddy!

As I said, I'm hesitant to use GoDaddy, but its the package we've been pointed to that best hits our price point and needs. Who would you suggest instead?
posted by anastasiav at 11:35 AM on November 11, 2010


If it's static HTML and images just stick it in Amazon S3 and you'll pay only for the storage and traffic you actually use.
posted by nicwolff at 11:41 AM on November 11, 2010


I host a few sites at GKG.Net. I don't think their prices are much different that GoDaddy. The service is certainly 1000% better though.
posted by COD at 11:42 AM on November 11, 2010


Ether Dreamhost or Lunarpages is a better choice than Godaddy.
If you're not going to be using the email that comes with the hosting, what are you currently using - hotmail/gmail/etc? Also, do you already have your own domain registered?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2010


If you're not going to be using the email that comes with the hosting, what are you currently using - hotmail/gmail/etc? Also, do you already have your own domain registered?

We do already have our own domain, hosting, etc. This project is actually, basically a portal: our org has many independent chapters across the region. Members of all chapters are getting a postcard to let them know of a new "portal" site they can access that is essentially a directory of all the chapters, to help members locate programs near them they might not have been otherwise aware of. (I'm purposefully obfuscating most of the details here.)

I don't think the board will approve any kind of "free" hosting; too many of the smaller chapters have been burned by small time free hosts before.
posted by anastasiav at 11:55 AM on November 11, 2010


If the total audience is 55K, I think your worries that any sort of paid hosting would crash under the load, esp. if the page is mainly html with a few images, is nil.

First, unless you're promising the secret to immortality or free beer for life, 55K people will not see the postcard, go "Oh my God!" and immediately go to their browser. A response rate of 3-5% on a postal mailing would be a marketer's wet dream, even if the audience is somewhat involved, i.e. have bought in to the extent of joining your org.

Second, even if you mailed the postcard at the same instant, they will arrive in homes on slightly different days and times.

As a comparison, I run a website for a membership org with about 60K members. It's got e-comm and other resource-intensive stuff. I have my own server, but it's nothing special and it's serving other websites. We've done e-mail campaigns, and never has it hiccuped.

I'd get whatever hosting package makes sense for what you need in the long run, and not worry about the load at launch at all.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


A response rate of 3-5% on a postal mailing would be a marketer's wet dream, even if the audience is somewhat involved, i.e. have bought in to the extent of joining your org.

We had a 62% response rate to a paper survey mailed to these same members, so I'm expecting a pretty high response.
posted by anastasiav at 12:16 PM on November 11, 2010


We do already have our own domain, hosting, etc.

Then why not use what you have? I'm assuming that you've got:

yadda.com

and your mailing is saying "go to [yadda.com/dabba | yadda.com/dabba.htm | dabba.yadda.com]".

So all you're going to need to do is make the dabba|dabba.htm file be your portal page, or dabba.yadda.com be a sub-domain that either does the same or re-directs to the portal page.

Heck, even if you're going to do yadda-dabba.com as a full domain for the portal, *most* (not all) host providers allow you to have secondary domains on the same host.

Maybe I'm just confused and not getting it, but it doesn't sound at all like you need a second hosting service whatsoever.

We had a 62% response rate to a paper survey mailed to these same members, so I'm expecting a pretty high response

Whoa!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:45 PM on November 11, 2010


Maybe I'm just confused and not getting it, but it doesn't sound at all like you need a second hosting service whatsoever.

Our current hosting (for our chapter) is provided to us by a donor. The regional organization would prefer to pursue their own hosting, paid for by the regional organization, for reasons far too complex to get into here.
posted by anastasiav at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2010


We had a 62% response rate to a paper survey mailed to these same members, so I'm expecting a pretty high response.

I may be misunderstanding the level of involvement in your membership. Response rate to a paper survey is different than a mailing response where you're asking people to part with money; still that's really unusually high.

I still think you'll be fine with any reasonable quality paid hosting service, esp. with just basic HTML pages.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:09 PM on November 11, 2010


Short version: you'll be fine with any basic hosting provider.

If you want to do some due diligence:

We had a 62% response rate to a paper survey mailed to these same members, so I'm expecting a pretty high response.

Ok, let's assume 100% of the people you mail view your site, all on the same day. A day has 24 * 60 * 60 = 86400 seconds. So you wouldn't even get a pageview every second.

But people won't visit your page evenly throughout the day, meaning your traffic will be spiky. Most people get their mail when they come home from work, so say 100% the people you mail view your site -- in the same hour. That's still 60 * 60 = 3600 seconds, for a load of 55000 / 3600 ~= 15.3 queries per second.

Even with the pessimistic napkin math above, you are really not talking about a lot of traffic as these things go. Look at the size of the pages you're sending and you should be able to estimate the amount of bandwidth you'll need fairly easily.

If all you're sending is HTML, CSS, and a few images, you will not be generating much load on the server's processors. Basically bandwidth is the thing you'll care about when picking a plan.

http://code.google.com/speed/articles/web-metrics.html is Google's breakdown on average sizes for the pieces of webpages that are sent over the wire. It should help you estimate if getting the exact sizes for your content proves difficult.
posted by amery at 9:02 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And since you're asking for specific hosting recommendations:

I follow hosting threads here on AskMe pretty regularly, and based on what I've been reading here lately, if I were picking a hosting provider today, I would pick Dreamhost.
posted by kristi at 9:33 AM on November 12, 2010


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