How Slickstream Prioritizes Stability, Performance and Support

Here at Slickstream, we field a lot of questions from customers, trialists, and interested publishers about our technical processes and how we affect the websites we're on. This is, of course, totally reasonable! The performance of your site is paramount, and you need to be confident in the reliability of any new component you're adding to it.

Closeup retro image businesswoman, female hands holding white sign or card with message Reliability Counts isolated on gray office wall background. Customer service concept

We can generally group these questions into three categories:

  1. How stable are we?
  2. Do we impact site speed and performance?
  3. Can you count on us if something goes wrong?

While we make no claims to be perfect, we are constantly focused on these concerns and do our utmost to address them. Here are some things we think you should know about each.

1. Stability

This question usually manifests itself after a service outage, like the one we had on Thursday, September 17th, and is totally reasonable. In this specific case, the outage lasted for a little over 30 minutes and affected all our sites. It was an unintended byproduct of an upgrade to the Engagement Suite and our back-end systems, and the underlying issue has now been fixed.

We do these upgrades frequently as we continue to grow and evolve (this one in particular was to address capacity due to our growing number of sites), and every so often they can cause an issue. We're actively taking steps to limit that risk, and to lessen the impact of any future errors.

For reference, in 2020 so far we've had a total downtime of almost exactly 5 hours, equating to 99.93% uptime. Here's how that breaks down: 

  • Full service outages (>30 minutes): 3
  • Partial or short (<30 minutes) outages: 9
  • Total outage time: ~5 hours, or 99.93% uptime

2. Performance

Another thing publishers come to us about is site speed, and whether we have an adverse effect on their performance. While any addition to your site is going to have some impact, we work very hard to minimize it and are proud of the results we've seen to date.

We've written a bit about site speed in the past, but here are some key facts straight from Preet, our front-end engineer (with my layman's comments in italics):

  1. Slickstream loads only 78kb of compressed JavaScript on your page, which is fast to load and execute.
    • Relative to many other services, we're extremely light.
  2. We load our code asynchronously so your page rendering is not blocked.
    • This means that the rest of your site isn't waiting for us to load.
  3. We cache the code itself on the reader's machine, in addition to the browser cache.
    • For returning visitors, Slickstream loads even faster.
  4. Typically for a returning user, our code will load and run in less than a second. It may take a couple of seconds for filmstrip pages to show but that happens lazily without affecting your site rendering. Search and other features are ready in about 1 second for a returning user.
    • The filmstrip may take slightly longer to appear than search or favorites, but again it doesn't slow down the rest of your site.

We are diligent about monitoring our performance with Google Lighthouse and other industry standard tools, and are always happy and ready to address specific speed concerns via email as well.

3. Support

That segues nicely into the final point: our customer support. We're still very much a small team, but we pride ourselves on our ability to provide quality, timely assistance to customers from all over the world.

What that means is sometimes you might get a reply from our marketing guy (me), or our CEO (Kingston) rather than the actual support team (Carl and Lynn), but you'll get a reply, and we'll do our absolute best to solve your issue. In fact, 90% of support tickets are resolved in less than 48 hours!

Obviously we'd prefer if nothing ever went wrong, but sadly that may be slightly out of our grasp. If you're a customer or trialist, please never hesitate to reach out if something doesn't look right.

We design for high availability, high performance and seamless integration with your site with minimal management on your behalf, and we really want to know if we’re not meeting expectations on any of those fronts.