BT Sport app suffers performance nightmare on first day of Premier League

In an embarrassing “own goal” type gaff, BT Sport’s brand new app made victims out of its users this weekend, preventing many from watching the critical first game of the new season.

For football fans across the UK, Saturday was one of the biggest days of the year – the first day of the new season. It was also a big day for BT Sport, the new live sports offering from BT going head to head with Sky Sports.

One of the key elements to BT Sport’s offering are the apps for iOS and Android devices, which have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times since its release over the summer.

Unfortunately for fans and the emergent broadcaster, the apps scored an own goal on the big day, preventing many from watching their favourite teams once the matches got underway.

BT received a barrage of complaints via Twitter and in the form of negative reviews in each app store:

Unfavourable reviews of the BT Sports app in the Google Play store

Unfavourable reviews of the BT Sports app in the Google Play store

BT responded to many of the complaints directly on Twitter, and managed to fix the issues in time for the second half – but the damage was done for many users. It just goes to show that the performance of an app or website goes a long way in customer satisfaction and loyalty. And it’s an expensive mistake when research has shown that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

Want to read about some other performance nightmares that caused headaches for businesses and their customers? Read our post “15 Web Performance Nightmares and the damage they caused“.


How (and Why) NOT to Crash Your Servers

I recently came across a blog post on iMedia Connection titled “How to Crash Your Servers: 4 Key Elements to Driving Traffic“. This struck me as a strange title; after all, who would actually WANT to crash their own servers?

Well, I suppose the title worked because I clicked and I read the post. But as the title hints, the article opens with the “attractive” proposition of creating a marketing campaign so effective that it crashes the target website. In fact, here’s a direct quote:

“From my marketing experience at ZAGG, we’ve crashed the servers a number of times by using these four key elements of driving traffic to your website.”

I want to give this marketer the benefit of the doubt, especially because the rest of the article doesn’t really have anything to do with this misguided intro, but I was struck by two thoughts after reading:

  1. The last thing your business should want to happen is for your website to crash or suffer performance problems. This is not a good thing!
  2. The worst possible time to direct people towards your website or landing page is when your website is down or at a crawl. It’s a waste of time and effort and annoys potential customers!

Here’s another quote from the article: “It’s every internet marketers dream to crash the servers.” While it might seem like a great indicator of success that a marketing campaign has generated so much traffic that it “crashed the servers”, here’s the bad news: by sending more traffic at your site than the site could handle, you’ve just wasted your marketing campaign, since nobody can take advantage of your special offer or read about your business now that the site is unavailable.

Think about it: If you were a potential customer and you saw an offer online that you wanted to take advantage of, or an advert or link to a product or service that might be of genuine interest to you, how would you feel if you clicked that link only to sit looking at a loading screen for several minutes, or if the page just never loaded at all? MAYBE you would try again later. But you’re more likely to never come back – 88% of users don’t return to websites after a poor experience (source: Gomez). This also softens the impact of any future marketing campaigns you do. I think the most key fact to mention, though, is that a crashed website has a conversion rate of zero. Guaranteed.

So by bringing your website down with your brilliant marketing campaign, you’ve wasted marketing budget, damaged your brand, annoyed potential customers and lost revenue. Doesn’t seem like such a great goal any more, does it?

I’m not saying you should be conservative with your marketing campaigns in fear of bringing the website down. Instead, you need to know that your website will be able to handle the traffic brought in by marketing streams, before the campaign starts. By undertaking a performance audit with Intechnica, you can get assurance on exactly how much traffic your website can handle (see Janrain’s blog about their story), as well as where any performance problems might exist.

To see some real world examples of overzealous marketing campaigns being wasted by poorly performing or crashed websites, including Nectar, Dr Pepper and the Glastonbury festival, check out 15 Web Performance Nightmares, and the damage they caused.

With the peak trading time fast approaching, make sure your e-commerce site will perform: Talk to Intechnica about assuring your site’s performance

Performance Nightmare: HM Revenue & Customs Tax calculator crashes on first day

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

Transparency of data is no good when people can’t access the site

Setting the scene: As part of a plan to improve the transparency of UK government spending, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) launched an online tool for calculating the amount of tax paid based on earnings, and where this money is spent by the government. The tool was launched on Monday 28th May 2012 on the HMRC website, as well as in app form for iOS and Android devices. The calculator is supposedly “a big step towards a more transparent, 21st century system”, according to exchequer secretary to the Treasury David Gauke.

Performance Nightmare: In an all too familiar story for online government tools with the remit of “providing transparency” to the public, the tax calculator website crashed within hours of launching. The site was unavailable to users as HMRC admitted that the issues were “purely” down to “phenomenal demand”, as 400,000 people tried to access the website in its first morning. Instead, many were greeted with the error message “Sorry, the HMRC Tax Calculator is currently not available. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please try again later.”

This is not the first time that public interest in a new online tool, touted as promoting government transparency, has fallen at the first hurdle. As we wrote about in a previous post, back in February 2011 the police website’s crime map tool crashed catastrophically under the strain of 18 million hits an hour on its first day, and both the US (1940) and UK (1901) census websites, launched ten years apart from each other, were crippled on their first day by overwhelming demand. This new story of the HMRC service crashing is already gaining attention in mainstream media, just as the examples listed above did, which does not give a positive impression on the quality of these services.


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Intechnica are a full service digital agency offering performance assurance and complex application development. We solve performance problems!

Performance Nightmare: Nasdaq & the Facebook IPO

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.

Facebook investors didn’t “like” it when glitches hindered trading on opening day

Setting the scene: On February 1st 2012, on its eighth birthday, Facebook filed for an initial public offering (IPO), and was soon predicted to be valued at $100 billion (that’s four times the value of Google when it went public in 2004). Trading opened on Friday 18th May 2012, with shares opening for $38 (£24) but selling for $42.

Performance Nightmare: Due to a technical glitch on, the Facebook IPO launch was delayed by half an hour. Then, traders suffered a lack of visibility on order changes, and problems cancelling orders or even accessing the site, allegedly due to a “high-volume rush”. This hiccup affected 30 million shares and may have cost investors $100 million, as in some cases the price of shares had already dropped by the time orders had eventually been processed – hours after being placed, and in some cases “cancelled”. The level of demand for Facebook shares also affected financial site

Indeed, it seemed like neither Nasdaq or etrade were adequately prepared for the biggest, most public IPO opening in history; Nasdaq acknowledged “design problems” with its technology and vowed to improve it for future IPO openings. The fallout is looking to be costly; Nasdaq has already agreed to reimburse investors as much as $13 million for the blunders, and a multi-million dollar lawsuit has been filed against them by representatives of investors; Facebook itself along with Mark Zuckerberg are also being sued for Facebook shares allegedly being overvalued initially. The glitches were also blamed for share prices dropping below the expected level after several days of trading.

Picture: Sean MacEntee


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Be sure to check back (or subscribe) to the blog to see more Performance Nightmares as they are reported!

Intechnica are a full service digital agency offering performance assurance and complex application development. We solve performance problems!

Performance Nightmare: Rhythm and Vines Music Festival

Rhythm and Vines Music Festival

Performance is especially critical in transactional websites targeted at social media savvy customers

Setting the scene: The Rhythm and Vines Music Festival (established 2003) is an annual music festival in Gisbourne, New Zealand traditionally taking place during New Year. It started as a small New Year’s Eve celebration featuring Kiwi musical acts and was attended by 1,800 people in its first year. This expanded to a three day international festival, with 25,000 people attending in 2010. In the 2011 pre-sales period, 4,000 tickets were sold.

Performance Nightmare:When pre-sales opened for the 2012 festival, demand doubled from the previous year, bringing down the ticketing website. The website had troubles soon after launching, but was struck down again by overwhelming demand soon after relaunching. This was made worse for users by the fact that the website seemed to process their order and took their money, but would not confirm their purchase, instead displaying an error message. The festival organisers tried to keep customers up to date on the status of the site via Facebook and Twitter but both sites were hit by hundreds of negative comments from frustrated users, many of whom confused about the status of their payments. The festival’s sales manager announced that these orders were now being processed manually, which has to be a big strain on time and resources.

Systems need to scale with increasing demand. Photo:


Be sure to check back (or subscribe) to the blog to see more Performance Nightmares as they are reported!

Intechnica are a full service digital agency offering performance assurance and complex application development. We solve performance problems!

Performance Nightmare: Dutch Students Union

LAKS – Landelijk Aktie Komitee Scholieren (Dutch Students Union)

If one system fails to perform, there can be a knock-on effect across other systems as a direct response

Setting the scene: On Monday 16th May 2012, Dutch students began a 2 week-long examination process. A complaints hotline is set up each year by LAKS (effectively the Dutch Students Union) to deal with problems or issues arising from the exams or material.

Performance Nightmare: This is a quick one to highlight how one problem can have such an impact on other systems, and how there can be such a large knock-on effect under strain. Many of the complaints sent to the hotline this year were about the length of time an art exam took due to slow computer systems; whilst there were other complaints, these contributed to the 10,000 complaints sent in on the first day of exams. The complaints website subsequently crashed. Without wanting to attempt to define “irony”, a website crashing because of a flood of complaints about another system being slow has to fit the bill.


Photo: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M


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Performance Nightmare: UK Border Agency

UK Border Agency

IT systems failures can have a real life impact on the people who depend on them

Setting the scene: In the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics, London Heathrow (the busiest airport in the world) began to feel the strain of people coming into the country. Queues of up to three hours were reported at airport Immigration lines. Union strikes and new rules for foreign nationals from outside the EU to require a biometrics residents permit are said to have compounded the problem. The identity card system holds biometric records for over 600,000 foreign nationals living in the UK.

Performance Nightmare: The computer system tasked with processing the biometric permits collapsed the entire Croydon branch on April 3rd 2012, being deemed in the media as “a mess” and “not fit for purpose”. It was reported that the sheer volume of applicants was to blame for the failure, and that the system was not built to cope with the new demands imposed on it. It was even suggested that global business managers were being put off from doing business in the UK as a result of the inconvenience, as many people queuing for biometric permits to stay in Britain were grounded indefinitely and forced to resubmit their applications as a result of the technical issue, which shut down the system for two weeks.


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