A website is the key to your business ROI, to the success of your brand, and to the happiness of your customer. Just like a traditional brick-and-mortar business needs to be stocked, friendly, and clean, also your website needs to run as fast and efficiently as possible.
Research shows a clear relationship between web load speed and customer conversions. The faster a page loads the more likely customers will be to visit and do business on your site. The inverse is also true. The slower a page the less likely customers will be willing to wait around and engage with your brand.
So it’s fundamentally important to keep close tabs on the performance of your website – to make sure things are running optimally. A critical part of any web performance strategy is to be prepared for anomalies, such as higher peak events like holidays or Cyber-Monday. If website volume stretches your system beyond the usual limits then it can lead to a shut down. And if that happens then it creates a whole chain of events – customers won’t be able to access your services, new visitors will be turned away, and ultimately your revenue is impacted.
One best practice you should adopt into your overall web performance strategy is load testing. As described by trustworthy Wiki, “Load testing is the process of putting demand on a system or device and measuring its response. Load testing is performed to determine a system’s behavior under both normal and anticipated peak load conditions.” In other words, load testing is an important way to mitigate risk. It provides insurance for your customer’s happiness, not to mention your own sanity and business bottom-line. In what follows we discuss 7 load testing best practices to adopt today before you find out the hard way, with degraded performance or an outage or both!
1. Identify your business objectives
One of the first things you’ll want to ask yourself is how your testing environment relates to the overriding business objectives. Otherwise, you risk testing the wrong aspects of your application. The main question you’ll want to ask is “How will my application perform under load?” Some of the things that you’ll want to pay attention in order to establish your test environment are: “What channels of the user experience drive business metrics (advertising, revenue, or engagement)?” and “What are the basic user requirements relative to these metrics?”
2. Identify KPIs for application and web performance
After establishing your business objectives you’ll want to establish some basic KPIs for measuring real-time performance in comparison with performance objectives. Examples here include Response time, the time for application to perform a certain calculation; Throughput, or how many requests a system is able to process a second; and Resource Utilization, or how much resource your application is consuming in terms of CPU, memory, disk I/O, and network I/O.
3. Pick a load test tool
The success of your load test obviously depends on the kind of tool you choose. If you’d like overall best in class website monitoring and load testing then you’ll want to look into Monitis. With its first-class global service, Monitis lets businesses monitor their network anytime and from anywhere, including website uptime monitoring, full page load and transaction monitoring, and web load testing. The benefits and takeaways here are peace of mind and less stress. For example, the Monitis Web Load Tester provides optics on how your system responds to peak traffic loads. Knowing about the issues before they strike means you can be proactive rather than reactive. This is good for you and your business, and ultimately leads to better performance and happier customers.
4. Create test case
A test case is defined as “a set of test inputs, execution conditions, and expected results developed for a particular objective, such as to exercise a particular program path or to verify compliance with a specific requirement.” The various scenarios that you create based on metrics of user interaction with your application will help you develop the test cases that you’ll measure against. With test cases in place you can then create a test plan that simulates observed behavior. This can be done using virtual users on emulators or it may involve using physical devices. On the basis of the test cases you’ll then see how your application or website performs under a somewhat realistic load.
5. Understand your load environment
Remember that the purpose of load testing is to replicate your production environment as much as possible. Even a small hardware or configuration difference can have a big impact on your test results. Therefore, make sure that you understand the hardware limits of your environment and search for bottlenecks ahead of time. No test environment will ever exactly replicate your production one, but you must try to get things as accurate as possible.
6. Run the load test incrementally
You don’t want to test everything at first. Instead, be sure that you start with a small number of distributed users and then scale up incrementally. Doing so will help you to better identify the bottlenecks and the point at which the system crashes. Once you run the first test, stop and perform analytics on each cycle and fix the bottlenecks before moving on to the next testing scenario.
7. Always keep your end-users in mind
Don’t get in the trap of conducting load testing for its own sake, but rather always keep your end-users in mind. Remember that they are your bread and butter. Without site visitors and regular customers you’d have no revenue, so be sure to construct your load testing in a way that keeps the end-user experience at the forefront of concerns. After each load test, analyze the results and check performance against the previously identified metrics and business objectives to ensure that benchmarks were fully achieved. The primary purpose of load testing is to keep your hard-working customers happily returning to your site and engaging with your brand, product, and service.