Barnett Waddingham: 99.99% uptime and dramatic improvements to user satisfaction

Mike Barrett

Partnering with Divio, we upgraded Barnett Waddingham’s availability and stability, delivering 99.99% uptime and dramatically increasing their Apdex user satisfaction score.


A leading independent UK professional services consultancy at the forefront of risk, pensions, investment and insurance, Barnett Waddingham is a trusted partner to 25% of FTSE 100 and over 15% of FTSE 350 companies.

The website is large, and in many areas dynamically generated, with more than 2,500 articles and events and creatively complex landing pages. The marketing team send regular high-volume email marketing campaigns. 

Compounding the high volume of marketing-generated traffic, launching Barnett Waddingham's website on our enterprise-class JUMPSuite platform in 2019, we saw a gradual increase in unfriendly bot activity. In tandem, these traffic peaks created “micro outages”, which began to occur multiple times per week. Whilst these were very short, typically less than 30 seconds in duration, the overall result was a degraded user experience.

We use Pingdom Real User Monitoring (RUM) to measure performance on the site, which records page load times for every pageview. The site was achieving an Apex score of 0.85, with only 73% of users satisfied with their experience: 

"Working with the developers to help solve the outage issue whilst maintaining our deliverability of dynamic content has been rewarding"

Richard de Silva, Senior Digital Marketing Manager - Barnett Waddingham

Our partnership with Divio

We partner with Divio to provide secure, resilient AWS-based hosting for our clients.

We’ve been working collaboratively with the team at Divio since 2017, and we came together to tackle Barnett Waddingham’s availability issue.

First, we set up a test environment that mirrored the live site and enabled Cloudflare to get a better understanding of what needed to be done. We established that there were two key areas that we needed to address:

  1. Dynamic content: When a new article is published, it can appear in hundreds of different places across the site. The same goes for events, people, services etc.  virtually every page on the site has some element of dynamic content.

    Cloudflare caches at a page level; how would we keep this dynamic content fresh, ensuring that appeared immediately even on cached pages? 
  2. Editorial control: Site editors need to be able to edit and remove content quickly. If the content is cached, how do they do this?

"The solution involved thorough collaborative testing, but training for our web editors has been simple and cache checks have become a part of our quality control process."

Richard de Silva, Senior Digital Marketing Manager - Barnett Waddingham


Agility for editors

We modified JUMPSuite, our enterprise-class CMS platform to automatically signal to CloudFlare when page changes have been made. This automatic signalling enabled Cloudflare to immediately re-cache only the pages that have been changed and ensure that minor edits are visible in real-time.

We also built a new function in the CMS that allows editors to quickly clear the cache manually for individual URLs or the whole site, ensuring that changes in structure or pages that have been moved can instantly be reflected in the cache. 

Cached pages, fresh content

With the editorial challenges overcome, we then switched our attention to dynamic content.  Historically, this was generated via a call to the CMS to populate the latest content as part of the page load.

We re-factored the code in our “related” content plugins to do this using javascript in the front end after the initial page load. That way, the core of the page can be cached and loaded via CloudFlare with the latest dynamic content populated afterwards.

"We have recently included the site uptime metric among our key digital performance indicators, given how important it is to all visitors of the website."

Richard de Silva, Senior Digital Marketing Manager - Barnett Waddingham

The result: 99.99% uptime

The results have exceeded expectations. The micro outages have been completely eliminated, and we’ve achieved 99.99% uptime since implementing the solution. The website response time has also dropped dramatically, achieving consistent response speeds of 300-500 ms.

User experience on-site has improved considerably, with a 16% increase in satisfied users and a resultant Apdex score of 0.92

You can see from the chart below that the load times across the board have moved to the left, with the majority of users experiencing sub-2-second page load times.

This has been a pioneering project; the first website to launch on Divio’s integrated Cloudflare service. The results are a testament to the value and innovation that can be delivered through collaborative partnerships.

"Being able to reach a consistent 99.99% standard and split-second page load time supports our ongoing commitment to providing a clean and modern digital experience for all users."

Richard de Silva, Senior Digital Marketing Manager - Barnett Waddingham

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