Fear Success: When Your Site Goes Viral

I am so happy that I develop sites with Drupal.


About a year ago we built a simple blog site for a friend of mine. As usual, we built it in Drupal, using Drupal 7 when Drupal 7 wasn’t quite ready. But I wanted the site to last long term, and who knew what tomorrow would bring, so I wanted the latest version of the most powerful Open Source Content Management System I knew.

This past week my friend wrote an article for the New York Times that linked back to her blog. The blog went viral, but I wasn’t worried. I knew that this simple Drupal site would easily be robust enough to handle the spikes in traffic that would come pouring in (of course the server was another story — but it held up as well).

When building even the smallest sites you need to fear success. If suddenly your business/organization gets popular, you need to know that your site won’t collapse under the pressure when you need it most. It is not the initial launch (unless you’re a site like grammy.com or whitehouse.gov — both Drupal sites) that will get you, it’s the sudden attention by thousands of users just taking a peek at the news.

There are many ways to protect your site from success. Using a system like Drupal is just one of them. Obviously, this isn’t enough, and server configurations are also important. Using the cloud can help with that. If you except or view a serious spike, with the cloud you can just increase the size and you’re set. But if the code itself isn’t built correctly, you’ll need more than what the could give you.

When we build sites with Drupal, we know that we have a huge community constantly checking and upgrading a good deal of our code. We know the core code has been tested in extremely trying environments, and we know that it can stand the heat.

So when nothinginmoderation.ca went viral last week, we weren’t worried.