What is a pre-queue?

A pre-queue is what website visitors will enter if they arrive before a sale or registration with an online queue is in place. Pre-queues help manage a build-up of visitors before the sale or registration that can cause a website or app to crash.

For example, if you are releasing a makeup collection at 10:00am, you could set up an online queue so that all website visitors arriving between 9:00am and 9:59am enter the pre-queue. The pre-queue page often features a countdown timer to the start of the sale or registration, at which point the online queue activates.

Pre-queue comprises one of the four life cycle stages of an online queue. The typical life cycle goes: Idle → Pre-queue → Queue → Post-queue.

Queue-it pre-queue countdown page

How does an online pre-queue work?

When you set up an online queue to begin at a specified date and time, you can choose to place all visitors who arrive early into a pre-queue. The pre-queue serves as a virtual holding area, offloading visitors from your website or app infrastructure to minimize strain on your system. These early visitors will see a page with a countdown timer. When the sale or registration starts, visitors are randomized and assigned a place in the online queue. Visitors arriving after the sale or registration starts get a first-come, first-served place in line.

Why use a pre-queue?

Orange bowling balls headed towards bowling pin

Online traffic can swamp your site or app

51%

of IT outages are avoidable, say global IT decision makers, with usage spikes being the number two reason causing downtime

65%

of enterprises need over an hour to fix a website

86%

of enterprises report downtime costs of $300,000+ per hour

A pre-queue prevents website crashes from early demand

When running your biggest sales or registrations, the price for website failure is high. You need to get them right.

A pre-queue helps you manage pre-sale build-up on your site. Offloading early visitors from your infrastructure gives you control over online traffic peaks that threaten to crash your site.

Pile of green progress bar icons to an ordered FIFO queue
green bowling pins waiting in line

A pre-queue delivers online fairness

A pre-queue neutralizes any advantage to arriving early to your sale or registration. This is a typical tactic used by speedy scalper bots, who arrive seconds before the sale’s start to beat the crowd. The pre-queue removes this attack vector.

That’s because early visitors in the pre-queue are randomized once the sale or registration begins. If they weren’t, the sale’s start time would just be artificially pushed further and further ahead. Randomizing earlycomers is the fairest way of dealing with a line online and giving all visitors a fair and equal shot.

A pre-queue lets you run quality assurance on your live site

When you have a hyped collection release or limited-inventory product, you want to get the timing just right.

Putting visitors in a pre-queue allows you to upload products or push a landing page to your live environment without access from the general public. You can allow your IT team to bypass the pre-queue and run quality assurance tests on your live site before letting visitors in.

Green trophy on top of green card pyramid

When is it helpful to use a pre-queue?

Product launches & releases
In-demand online ticket sales
Shopping holidays like Black Friday
Influencer & email marketing campaigns
Government applications
University admissions

We used Queue-it to manage a countdown on our webshop, to manage traffic before the event went live, and to manage the load of traffic. We managed for the first time to have zero downtime in a major launch and (after we saw everything was working as intended) be totally relaxed during the event itself.

Marco Jorritsma, Business Process Analyst, Fairphone

Queue-it quote from Fairphone

Discover how an online queuing system helps you prevent website crashes