Membership sites offer a convenient platform for creating a community around your brand or for offering services to an exclusive group of members. These sites can host members in the tens to thousands and transform into a profitable business. However, like any other online business, membership sites are also prone to various technical issues. This may slow down the site or worse, crash it for a longer period of time – both of which will cost you revenue!
The following article will cover the most common technical issues and how membership sites can avoid them.
Scaling with Members
Scalability is one of the most common issues that membership site owners face. As membership sites continue to grow in popularity, it’s important for site owners to ensure that their server resources can scale to accommodate the increasing number of members. Otherwise, users may experience slow loading times and other performance issues.
You should also keep an eye on your server resources and capacity, especially during a planned event or promotion. If you see that your membership site is starting to slow down, or if your members have started to complain about the site’s performance, it may be time to upgrade your hosting plan or add additional resources. By scaling your server resources, you can help to ensure that your membership site can handle a growing number of members without sacrificing performance.
You can also avoid falling into scalability issues by running a thorough load test of your membership site prior to any event. The load test can reveal potential issues both on your site as well as on your server. At Convesio, we run such tests on behalf of our customers prior to any high-traffic event.
On top of that, membership sites hosted with Convesio can also benefit from our Auto Scaling feature that scales up or down server resources without human intervention. With this feature enabled, website owners can host any event without worrying about the site crashing.
While membership sites can offer a wealth of content and benefits to their members, they can also run into some performance issues from time to time. These performance issues can affect the user experience of your membership site, which could lead to losing members and SERP rankings. Let’s look at the most common performance issues and how to fix them.
Slow Loading Times
If your membership site is taking too long to load, it could be due to a number of factors. These include large image files, too many plugins, or code that is not optimized. To investigate this, you can use services like GTMetrix, which runs a performance test on your site and reveals insightful information. Based on this, you can consider compressing all the media or implementing lazy loading so that the textual content loads before the images.
Similarly, if you use custom code for any feature in your membership site, you can also try deleting unused plugins and performing a code audit. You can also try minifying the CSS and JS code – but make sure that you take a full backup of your site before you do so, as it sometimes breaks the site and results in data loss. Finally, consider replacing outdated plugins with updated ones. Updated plugins are more compatible with both the current version of WordPress and PHP and are more secure, too.
Another option to enhance the performance of your membership site is to use a caching plugin. Caching can help to speed up loading times by storing frequently accessed files in memory. This can free up resources on the server, which can improve performance for all users. However, with membership sites, you need to be cautious while using caching, as there’s a lot of dynamic data that cannot be cached. This includes comments, posts, feeds, carts, and so on.
Time to First Byte
The time to first byte (TTFB) is the amount of time it takes for a web browser to receive the first byte of a web page from a web server. This is important because it is a measure of the server’s responsiveness and can be used to diagnose performance issues. If you record a higher TTFB, it means that your visitor is unable to receive the first response from your server fast enough.
To remedy this, you can keep your server closer to the location of your target market. The actual distance between the server and the visitor can cause latency issues. Secondly, you can use an intermediary service like a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that can help to distribute the load across multiple servers. At Convesio, we offer Cloudflare Enterprise features to our customers that allow them to leverage its global Edge Network for serving content at blazing fast speeds.
Another challenge that membership site owners often encounter is data security. A membership site typically contains sensitive user data, including names, addresses, credit card information, and more. This data is vulnerable to cyber attacks, which can jeopardize the security of your site and the privacy of your members. Avoiding these vulnerabilities is easier if you understand various types of breaches and know how to protect your site against each.
SQL injection is one of the most common types of attacks on WordPress sites. It is often used by hackers to gain access to a site’s database, where they can then insert their own malicious code. One of the most common reasons behind this attack is a vulnerability in a plugin or theme. Hackers can exploit this vulnerability to inject their own code into the database.
Once the hackers have injected their code into the database, they can then use it to take over the site or steal sensitive information from your members. In some cases, the hackers may even delete the entire database or worse sell it to your competitors. There are a few effective things you can do to protect your membership site against possible SQL Injection attacks.
Keep WordPress Updated
One of the best ways to protect against SQL injection is to keep your WordPress site up-to-date. WordPress releases security updates on a regular basis, so it’s important to install these updates as soon as they’re available.
Use a Website Firewall
A firewall is a piece of software that sits between your site and the rest of the internet. It can help to block malicious traffic, including SQL injection attempts.
Use WordPress’s Internal Escaping Functions
If you’re writing SQL queries, make sure to use WordPress’s internal escaping functions. These functions are designed to sanitize data before sending it to the database, which will help protect against SQL injection attacks.
Manually Review Code
If you’re a developer, you can help to protect against SQL injection by manually reviewing your code. Look for any places where user-supplied data is used in a SQL query, and make sure that it’s properly escaped.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
This type of attack occurs when a hacker inserts malicious code into a web page. This code can then be executed by any visitors to the site, resulting in the attacker being able to take control of the visitor’s browser and possibly steal sensitive information. It is executed by exploiting a vulnerability in a WordPress plugin or theme. Another is by injecting code into a WordPress post or page.
One of the most effective ways to avoid this attack is to use a web application firewall. Another way to protect against XSS attacks is to keep all WordPress installations up to date. Finally, it’s also a good idea to use a security plugin like Wordfence or MalCare.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is the most dreaded attack among cyber attacks. This type of attack does not require access to your site but access to thousands and millions of other victims’ computers that are used to send traffic to your site all at once. These illegal requests jam the server and prevent it from responding to the requests coming from legitimate traffic. This does not only jam your server but can also exponentially increase its resource consumption.
DDoS attacks are usually very stealthy and they can break your membership site without you even noticing it. Unless your membership is hosted with a provider like Convesio that has intelligent software in place for detecting malicious activities and identifying unusual traffic patterns. Membership sites hosted with Convesio are protected within the layers of various security shields that effectively protect them from various cyber-attacks including DDoS.
Your hosting provider plays an important role in the success of your membership site. After all, it is your host that is responsible for the uninterrupted delivery of your site’s content to every member while maintaining a good user experience. An optimized membership site hosting does not only do the above but also allows you to scale seamlessly as members grow in numbers.
Convesio is an unconventional Docker-based hosting for membership sites that runs your site on individual containers which are hosted on high-performing cloud clusters. This gives us a distinct advantage over other hosts when it comes to scaling.
Additionally, Convesio integrates seamlessly with tools like Cloudflare Enterprise and Object Cache Pro that boost the performance, reach, and security of your membership site. All of the above is important for running a scalable business and providing an excellent user experience to your members. As a hosting partner, we offer 24/7 expert support to help you steer through any challenges without going offline.
Membership sites are profitable when they run without any issues and offer a better user experience. However, just like any other website, membership sites are also prone to various technical issues that can affect their performance and lose valuable members’ data due to cyberattacks. As a membership site owner, it is vital to understand these issues and how to fix them.