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A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
A Perfect Launch, Every Time
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A Perfect Launch, Every Time

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Launching websites is hard, 60% of websites fail to launch on time. …

Launching websites is hard, 60% of websites fail to launch on time.
The Pantheon Launch Team launches several large enterprise sites every week, and supports hundreds of self-serve customers daily. They have helped marketing teams launch hundreds of sites and they have seen it all.
Learn their secrets to success.

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  • 1. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 11 COMMON SIGNS A WEBSITE LAUNCHED BEFORE IT WAS READY: 11 UGLY TRUTHS1. Why invest time to create a perfect launch? It’s simple. The process of planning a perfect launch keeps you from having an ugly one. Here are some common signs a website launched before it was ready: 1) Tens of thousands of visitors see a blank page 2) Your site times out when it’s featured on the Huffington Post 3) An old version of the site gets accidentally uploaded 4) A feature you thought was locked in gets deleted 5) You get a few viral Facebook links and the house of cards comes tumbling down 6) No one can figure out where the bottleneck or bug is 7) Your website is really unstable 8) Your developers are making last-minute infrastructure changes the night after launch day 9) Total system failure 10) People see error messages whenever they try to log in 11) #!#%# Steps to Avoid the Worst Day Of Your Career
  • 2. LAUNCHING A WEBSITE SOON? We don’t want to scare you. But website launches don’t have the best reputation. In fact, smooth launches are the exception rather than the rule. 60% of websites launch late. Many overrun their budgets. Great-looking sites fail to perform as expected. The worst-case scenario happens. Mystery slowdowns, overwritten work, bugs. Thousands of potential customers become missed opportunities. Beware of the ugly launch.
  • 3. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 11 common signs a website launched before it was ready: 11 UGLY TRUTHS Why invest time to create a perfect launch? It’s simple. The process of planning a perfect launch keeps you from having an ugly one. Here are some common signs a website launched before it was ready: Tens of thousands of visitors see a blank page Your site times out when it’s featured on the Huffington Post An old version of the site gets accidentally uploaded A feature you thought was locked in gets deleted You get a few viral Facebook links and the house of cards comes tumbling down No one can figure out where the bottleneck or bug is Your website is really unstable Your developers are making last-minute infrastructure changes the night after launch day Total system failure People see error messages whenever they try to log in #!#%# 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
  • 4. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME WHAT DOES AN UGLY APPLICATION LOOK LIKE INSIDE? It looks like a big, thick band in New Relic. Visitors experience this as slow response. PHP Database Web External Memcache App Server Response Time 4 10k ms 8k ms 6k ms 4000 ms 2000 ms 0 ms 01/29 01/29 01/30 01/30 01/30 01/30 16:00 20:00 00:00 04:00 08:00 12:00 Deployed Untested Code 6,000ms Average Response Time Increase
  • 5. WHAT’S INSIDE: This book shows you how to design the perfect launch, every time. Activating a solid plan now means you can do more than simply prevent poor website performance—you can double it in time for launch day.
  • 6. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME It’s not every day you launch a website (Unless you’re the Pantheon Launch Team) PANTHEON LAUNCH TEAM After launching 100’s of sites serving billions of pageviews, our team of Drupal and WordPress experts has developed a time-tested, repeatable system for rooting out potential problems and improving—and often doubling—your site’s performance. You’ve already hired a team of top developers and designers. Give them the systems and checks your website needs to become professional-grade. 6 Scott Massey Ricky Pugh Brian MacKinney Merrick Clark Suzanne Aldrich Timani Tunduwani Jessi Fischer
  • 7. 7 STEPS FOR A PERFECT LAUNCH, EVERY TIME: 1. Gather your cross-functional team. (page 8) 2. Start preparing 30 days before your launch. (page 9) 3. Don’t improvise. Use best practices. (page 10) 4. Assess your launchability with an automated Launch Check. (page 11) 5. Load test to simulate a day in the life of your website. (page 12) 6. Check your caching settings. (page 13) 7. Measure & celebrate your performance improvements. (page 14)
  • 8. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 1. GATHER YOUR CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAM A perfect launch is a team effort. Who’s on your cross-functional team? Project managers, developers, and business owners must have a transparent meeting of the minds. You’ll need to sync up more in the beginning. It’s worth it. The Launch Team can be your objective third-party to coordinate the onboarding process, monitor progress, and alert you to potential website performance issues along the way. Use a platform like Pantheon to see the progress of your project, along with who’s committing what code. Afraid of enduring 30 days of irrelevant status meetings that go on too long? Don’t be. Standup meetings are standard in agile development. We bring them to the process of preparing for your launch. After the initial kickoff call, most meetings take less than 10 minutes. 8
  • 9. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 2. START PREPARING 30 DAYS BEFORE YOUR LAUNCH A site launch gets complicated fast. If you don’t plan ahead and schedule tasks like importing data from multiple sources, batching data in the right chunks, and indexing search results, you risk time-outs, errors, and poor performance. Our recommended 30-day pace is brisk, but not breathless. There’s plenty of time to correct issues, but not enough time to lose momentum. A Perfect Launch Prep includes: • Benchmarks - Benchmark your site performance. We run site load tests to simulate live traffic. • Recommendations - We make recommendations for site performance improvements including caching. • Monitoring - We add site-level monitoring to augment our platform monitoring. • Enable - We enable database replication and multiple distributed application servers. 9
  • 10. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 3. DON’T IMPROVISE. USE BEST PRACTICES. Is launching a website art or science? Maybe it’s a little of both. When you work with evidence-based experts (like the Launch Team), you don’t need to improvise solutions on the fly. You can leverage lessons learned from thousands who have gone before you. In our experience, 80% of websites have the same problems. Our automated Launch Check can quickly identify issues so you can fix them before they become problems. For a foolproof launch, we recommend checking: 3 Drupal caching settings 3 Codebase and file size 3 Database structure 3 Modules, including duplicate/missing 3 Non-standard code structures 3 Views caching 3 Watchdog logs 10
  • 11. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME Assess your launchability with an automated Launch Check 4. IS YOUR WEBSITE LAUNCH-WORTHY? Caching settings, database structures, problems with modules on your site. If you’re not a DevOps expert, it’s easy to lose sight of the details in a big launch. Before you know it, you’ve stepped in a landmine and your team is manually putting out fires on the live code or database. That’s why the Launch Check runs an automated checklist to rule out problems and ensure optimal configuration, then gives you an actionable report. We run an automated Launch Check for the most common problems. Your results are then carefully reviewed by experts. Together, we’ll establish a baseline so you can make adjustments and measure your improvements. Learn more about Launch Check. Visit: https://www.getpantheon.com/product/ launchcheck 11
  • 12. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME 5. LOAD TEST TO SIMULATE A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR WEBSITE Why load test? Because you want to know how your site will perform in real life. Do you have the capacity for a typical day? What happens when a traffic spike stresses the site? The best time to start load testing is before you write your first line of code, to establish a baseline. Then you should do it incrementally during development, and again prior to launch. Ideally, you want your developers to perform the load test in your live environment. Pantheon makes that part easy. Load testing tools we recommend include Apache Bench, Apache JMeter, Load Impact, and Load Storm. Don’t forget to check your logs. Here’s a sample load test report. 12
  • 13. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME (Dynamic page generation is no one’s friend) 6. CHECK YOUR CACHING Believe it or not, your website needs a caching strategy to launch perfectly. Dynamic page generation may be the default, but it’s not acceptable! Without a proper front and back- end caching strategy, your site will wheeze and creak into action at every web request. Your site visitors won’t know why, they will simply give up. It turns out that unique visitors were straining the system at every point along the chain. You didn’t have a caching strategy. The cache isn’t simply a switch to flip. There are several kinds of caches at various points along your stack. We pay attention to all of them, making individual recommendations based on your goals and priorities. Types of caching we check: • Opcode Cache (APC, Zend OPcache, eAccelerator) • Backends (Memcached, Redis, MongoDB, file system, APC) • Front-end caching (Varnish, Squid, reverse-proxy CDNs) 13
  • 14. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME (No robots allowed) 7. MEASURE YOUR IMPROVEMENTS Empathetic humans should review your site after it goes live to make sure it’s working as planned. Any doubts? Put the Launch Team on the case. We don’t stop monitoring and gently suggesting improvements until everyone on your team is confident that perfection is imminent. 14
  • 15. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME Compare a site that’s configured well with one that’s configured badly COMPARE THE DIFFERENCE 15 Let’s start with what a bad configuration can mean in terms of performance. Starting with a Drupal 7 site, we ran 10,000 requests to the homepage using Apache Bench. The badly configured site was producing one PHP notice and warning in the theme layer. The correctly configured site produced no errors. 558ms Average 800 ms 700 ms 600 ms 500 ms 400 ms 300 ms 200 ms 100 ms 0 ms 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:30 19:00 19:30 20:00 Response Time Decrease Configured Correctly App Server Response Time PHP Database Web External
  • 16. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME The right configuration doubled performance RESULT? Bad Configuration: errors Load Time: 20 min, 52 sec Requests per second: 7.98 Time per request: 626.192 ms Good Configuration: no errors Load Time: 10 min, 25 sec Requests per second: 15.99 Time per request: 312.780 ms 16
  • 17. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME Go live. With confidence. LAUNCH DAY! All those last-minute custom fixes on launch day and the days after? They don’t happen. Our expert website support engineers guide you from prelaunch to high fives, including traffic and launch planning, a Launch Check, training and more. It’s included in all Enterprise & Pantheon One plans. WHAT COMES NEXT? When you have a website, every day is launch day. New traffic streams. New features. New products. Updates. Security and module updates. Learn how Pantheon can streamline the way you build, launch, and run your website. Visit getpantheon.com 17
  • 18. YOUR WEBSITE WILL LAUNCH. HOW IT LAUNCHES IS UP TO YOU. Choose your own adventure: Door #1: Forge ahead with development Door #2: Take 30 days now to set up your website for a lifetime of success #2#1
  • 19. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME Forge ahead with development DOOR #1: (NO PESKY AUDITS, MEETINGS, & CHECKS TO STAND IN YOUR WAY) Follow the status quo and proceed as usual, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Don’t plan ahead or take proactive steps to ensure a successful launch. Your sysadmins are pushing code directly to production and making database changes? Let them. The site looks great. What could go wrong?!? This is no time to rock the boat. Two days before you launch, a critical bug emerges. No one knows the cause. You pay your team overtime to troubleshoot this and 37 other issues. Each of these problems could have one or multiple causes. Is the problem in the database? Somewhere in the log? An issue with your backend systems, performance, security settings? A version control issue? Your caching? You won’t have the leisure to troubleshoot when your site is live and featured on the Huffington Post. The site may look good, but a respectable developer wouldn’t touch your code with a ten-foot pole. Unusable, error-prone, very insecure. Come launch day, it’s go live or die trying. The outcome? Expense, delays, stress. How it all ends: UGLY LAUNCH, LAST-MINUTE SURPRISES 19
  • 20. A PERFECT LAUNCH EVERY TIME Take 30 days now to set up your website for a lifetime of success DOOR #2: Assemble your Launch Team now, give them a proven course of action, and prepare for success. Your launch is just the beginning. Beginning 30 days before you plan to go live, you begin a battle-tested, smooth, streamlined, agile process with proper deployment, testing, QA strategies. Root out problems before they have a chance. By investing some time up front in planning and project management, you’ve liberated your website and your team from problems. Time spent sharpening the ax now will serve you in the days before and after you launch. Launch with confidence. It’s smooth, streamlined, and perfectly coordinated. High fives all around. How it all ends: A SMOOTH, CLEAN LAUNCH WITH NO SHOWSTOPPERS LURKING UNDER THE SURFACE Real-life example: The New Republic (Read the story: https://www.getpantheon.com/blog/how-to-have-an-awesome-drupal- enterprise-website-launch-Pantheon) 20
  • 21. Developers can claim their free Pantheon account at www.getpantheon.com. Invite your development team in seconds. Pantheon’s power tools and best practice workflows are free to use for as long as your site is in development. After you launch, monthly pricing starts at $25.

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