I find it interesting seeing how large websites deal with disruptions to their services. The reasons a website could be down or struggling are so numerous and complex that it would seem short sighted not to have a policy in place for this scenario. Often websites serve up screens that are simply saying “sorry, our service is down”, playing on a goofy “shucks guys” metaphor to try and appease user’s anger. Examples of this could include Twitter (we’ve all seen that screen about a million too many times) and Tumblr.
As usual the BBC employ a more elegant solution, shown above, which I screen grabbed a month or two ago when the site was struggling one day. I appreciate the way they attempt to serve up something useful to users, whilst stripping back on frills and images to ease the load on their servers.
Interestingly I don’t recall ever seeing Facebook go completely down, and I recently heard that keeping the service stable has been one of Zuckerberg’s main concerns from the offset. Being totally dependable, and available 24-7 is all a key part of the service’s user experience.
At this point I should remind myself that they break little bits here and there all the time (which is infuriating for any developer), but the core service always remains solid as a rock.