When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a £450 navy 'Naomi' shift dress made by Madderson London this year, yet another small British business fell victim to the 'Kate effect'.
Madderson was totally unprepared for the resulting rush of visitors to its website. As a result, it went offline.
As a UK provider of web hosting services, this is frustrating to hear. There's no excuse for websites being unable to handle traffic.
Cloud computing was designed for just this kind of scenario: the ability to scale resources up and down based on demand.
Although it would have been risky for Madderson to bring in extra stock just in case the Duchess wore the dress in public, it could have capitalised on the interest if the website had stayed available. Visitors would have been able to explore the company's range and order products from it.
If you want to avoid the 'Kate effect', here are six things to look for in a hosting package.
1. UK data centres
More than ever, the location of your web host is important to the performance and security of your website.
You want people to find you, and choosing a UK hosting provider may make your website more likely to rank well when people search on Google's UK website.
Find a genuine British company that does not outsource its servers or staff.
2. A good all-round package
When you're running a small business, money can be tight. It's easy to choose the cheapest hosting package, but do you really know what you'll get for your money?
Check all the usual things: customer support, apps and resources, reliability and uptime — and the location of the web host. You want a solid all-round package.
Be wary of being persuaded to spend a lot on the off-chance the 'Kate effect' might happen to your business. There's no point wasting money on resources you don't need or use.
With cloud hosting you pay just for the resources you use. When you no longer need them, you are no longer charged for them.
3. UK support, round the clock
When things do go wrong you want to be able to speak with trained professionals, and you want to be able to get hold of them.
You can't put enough value on being able to access great technical support at any time.
Choose a web host that is upfront about its support level. Check its service level agreement (SLA) for guaranteed uptime and search social media for reviews and opinions of that provider.
4. Active monitoring
Some web hosting providers (including Memset, the company I work for) offer services to monitor the availability and performance of your website.
This helps to identify and address issues - like a spike in traffic – quickly.
5. Instant scalability
One of the main advantages of cloud hosting is its scalability. Unlike other hosting, cloud hosting is designed to scale up instantly when demand peaks.
This can save you a lot of stress. It can even bring you extra customers, because there isn't a moment when your site is unavailable.
6. Backup and disaster recovery
Every business should be performing regular website backups and have a disaster recovery plan.
As cloud storage is cheap, you can probably afford to hold a separate, mirrored copy of your website with another provider. If disaster strikes, you can switch over and carry on as normal.
The 'Kate effect' is very real. But if you choose sensibly, you can protect your business from without spending a fortune on your web hosting.