A Return to Live Events With Performance and Stability

Cruickshanks Agency builds a world-class website for one of Australia’s
largest music festivals.

Industry: Live Music, Events

Site: fallsfestival.com by cruickshanksagency.com

Challenge: Relaunch the Falls Music & Arts Festival website after a 2020 hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. Build the site back bigger and better, with downtime and ticketing issues completely resolved.

Solution: Site redesign led by Cruickshanks Agency, rebuilt on WP Engine's industry-leading WordPress platform.

Results: Higher concurrent engagement with zero downtime. Google Lighthouse scores in the high 90s across Mobile and Desktop. Featured In Elementor's May 2022 showcase.

Falls Music & Arts Festival is one of Australia's largest live music events, bringing together some of the world’s most popular musicians as well as dance, comedy, theater, circus, cabaret, and other art forms. Beginning on New Year's Eve and extending into January, Falls Festival is a multi-day event, held across Lorne (Victoria), Marion Bay (Tasmania), Byron Bay (New South Wales), and Fremantle (Western Australia).

Cruickshanks Agency is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps businesses with professional web design/development, SEO, digital advertising, and business consulting. A WP Engine Agency Partner, Cruickshanks specializes in websites for events, music festivals, and artists.

“Working with WP Engine provides us with way more than hosting—it’s an expert team that money can’t buy. Other providers won’t even talk to you on the phone, and for big events like these, you need to have that deep level of support.”

—Brett Cruickshanks, Founder, Principal, Cruickshanks Agency

Meeting the Return of Live Music Head-On

Falls Music & Arts Festival is one of Australia’s most beloved outdoor live events, and since the early 1990s, it’s brought together thousands of music fans for epic concerts at some of the country’s most iconic locations.

From rock, electronic, and hip hop to the dance, comedy, theatre, and other art forms present at the annual event, festival-goers eagerly await the announcement of each year’s lineup, which is always filled with international superstars and up-and-coming artists.

That’s why, when Falls Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a major loss for music fans and festival organizers alike.

With the focus shifting to the following year’s event, Falls Festival organizers, along with the festival’s parent company, Secret Sounds, wanted to ensure that it would reemerge with a fitting digital presence.

In addition to a redesign that would update the look and feel of the site and the larger ticket buyer journey, lingering performance issues related to high traffic and concurrent users had caused the site to go down in previous years—a major issue that had to be resolved before the site could be relaunched

After evaluating different options, Falls Festival engaged Cruickshanks Agency to lead the project, which included rebuilding the entire site on a tight deadline with only a few short months before tickets were set to go on sale.

“We had the design and development part nailed,” said Cruickshanks Agency Founder and Principal Brett Cruickshanks, "but we needed a hosting partner that could provide us with enterprise-level assurances around scalability, security, and support.”

Replacing Downtime With a Stable Solution

While Cruickshanks had historically built sites using Kinsta, the size and scope of this project led him and his team to evaluate other options that would provide the needed server performance and high-touch support required.

“Cost was also a major factor,” Cruickshanks said. “The solution Kinsta provided was quite pricey and it didn’t come with the level of expert support we ended up getting from WP Engine.”

With WP Engine, Cruickshanks and his team discovered that support included a dedicated team who walked through the project, scoping out the requirements of the rebuild and benchmarking traffic to better prepare for the relaunch.

“We went through traffic from the years before to see where the traffic was causing issues,” Cruickshanks said. “WP Engine helped us scope for that, and build a solution that ran day-to-day on a dedicated server environment with the ability to scale up for launches and the high concurrency that comes with them— 40-60,000 users hitting the site at once for ticket sales.”

Cost-wise the solution came in under Kinsta’s proposed options, and with a new WordPress site up and running on WP Engine’s platform, Cruickshanks and his team were able to easily begin the site rebuild on a staging environment, with dedicated engineers from WP Engine assisting throughout.

“While there were things we didn’t know at first, there were also things we did know,” Cruickshanks said. “We knew the site would be static and cacheable, and we did a great job of rebuilding it with Elementor, but building it on WP Engine's platform gave us the needed assurances that the site was supported before it relaunched and tickets went on sale.”

The Results

From start to finish, Cruickshanks and his team were able to complete the project in just over two months.

“The client was super happy with the turnaround time and the finished product,” Cruickshanks said. “It was an awesome effort and the end result just really speaks for itself.” 

The relaunch of the new site was timed to accompany the lineup and ticket pre-sale announcement for the coming festival, and the markedly improved user experience was widely noticed. 

The site's load time was highly stable, even as concurrent traffic jumped to the high levels seen on ticket sale days, and because the site was built to be static and extremely cacheable, the more people that hit the site, the more performant it became. 

Coupled with WP Engine's smart scaling solutions to ensure headroom on the solution, everything went off without a single 502/504 error, and with 68K unique visits on the first day. 

With the successful project in tow, Cruickshanks and his team have also expanded their footprint with Secret Sounds, increasing their scope and utilizing the approach they took for Falls Festival across all of Secret Sounds’ Australian concert sites. 

“This was an excellent project and one that truly benefited from WP Engine’s partnership and support,” Cruickshanks said.

“Not only were we able to bring our best as a boutique agency for an excellent client, but we’ve also been able to expand and grow as an agency thanks to WP Engine and the way it empowers its Agency Partners.”  

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