Probably similar to every TypePad customer, I received an email over the weekend from Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz with more commentary on what Six Apart is doing to sort out the service issues arising from TypePad's growing pains.
It's good communication to customers and does give you a better sense of the scale of the problems for a company where customer demand has outstripped the company's ability to meet that demand (and I can think of numerous companies who wish they had that kind of problem!).
TypePad's growth has been extraordinary, Berkowitz said in the email, with TypePad serving ten times the traffic they were a year ago. It looks like TypePad's problems became much worse only a few weeks ago due to "even more rapid growth than expected in the use of TypePad," the email said.
I'm trying to put this into perspective with my experience on Sunday when I spent nearly five hours trying to create and set up a new multi-author TypePad blog (for a conference - news about that soon) where the time I spent should have been about 45 minutes, an hour at most. I guess I was unlucky in that what I was doing - things like creating and editing a theme, creating typelists, writing and editing sample posts, etc - required constant interaction with the TypePad servers. I think I've now memorized the error codes from the 'gateway timeout' and 'internal server error' messages I received with literally every server interaction. I did eventually manage to get the new blog finished, but the air in my office by that time was a bit blue.
So what to make of the email where it says "over the last two days we have made significant progress in relieving the stress on the servers in the old data center and completing the move"? It hasn't relieved my stress! I certainly saw no difference on Sunday to the treacly performance that I've experienced in recent weeks which, to my perception as a user, has steadily been getting worse.
It would be easy to continue to make critical comments on TypePad's service issues. But I'm not going to do that. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this is still benefit-of-the-doubt time as far as I'm concerned, at least for a little while longer.
So, Mr Berkowitz, I will trust you when you say:
[...] By the end of next week, we hope to have all this behind us and to be back to providing you the superior service you have come to expect from TypePad. We ask for a little bit more patience until that time. We all can’t wait to get back to the situation where our customers are delighted with our service and happy to recommend it to their friends. Until that time please accept our sincere apologies and thanks for your patience.
Ok, patience it is even if mixed in with blue air at times.
Whatever else you do, though, please keep that communication flowing.