Web Site Transparency Is Critical

Tens of thousands of people react on social networks when Gmail is slow, Amazon trips, there is a Facebook issue, or Foursquare’s API crashes.

This is an immediate consequence of Web apps playing an essential part of our lives. Web apps are more reliable than ever before, but the public outcry is more extensive — especially when typing “#fail” on Twitter takes only a second.

Companies that rely on Web apps should have the following channels in place well before a “crisis” strikes:

  • A status page hosted independently from the main website. Use an easy, predictable name: status.company-or-brand.com.
  • A Twitter account to post quick updates. Use @company-or-brand here as well.

Next, when an outage or crisis starts unfolding, companies should:

  • Admit failure ASAP
  • Sound human
  • Explain who and what is affected
  • Maintain a detailed outage timeline
  • Share lessons learned afterwards

Companies that are transparent about service issues gain kudos and trust. When they broadcast information quickly, their message will be relayed across social networks consistently, instead of leaving it up to the guesses of the public or media. Finally, it saves serious money in the company’s helpdesk.

The next time there‚Äôs an issue with your favorite application: check its status page and see if there is up-to-date information before you type “#fail”. Many companies have set up Public Status Pages already.

Stan P. van de Burgt is CEO and co-founder of WatchMouse, a global industry leader in self-service website and application performance monitoring.