Tips on why you want to load test your website, web apps and API’s in 2017. Plus - a few tips on setup and implementation.
This post is written by Jaymi Tripp from Dotcom-Monitor.
1. You are expecting an influx in traffic or sales
If you know that you will see an increase in visitors to your website, load testing is crucial, and no website is invincible. In 2003 we saw with Amazon in a situation that ended in legal issues and server overload when someone entered incorrect data for the price of some popular electronic items at the time. Even the government is susceptible to crashes. We all remember this after the launch of Obama Care with the incredible page load times and constant glitches. Rumor has it that the site never went through any load testing scenarios and there was no information on what its capacity actually was.
Knowing what you need to ensure your site performs under pressure is extremely valuable. This allows you to have the tools in place to ensure your website can weather the storm. The element of surprise is never appreciated in website performance. Insight into the functions and performance of your website will ensure happy customers and a website that functions as expected.
3. You want to know what your user experience is like
When using cloud based load testing software you can be given the ability to not only test, but to also record video of the test in progress. For example, on LoadView-Testing.com, a cloud based load testing platform– you can record the experience as your users see it and test right down to the very element on the page. LoadView uses the EveryStep Automation Tool to do this. Best thing about the EveryStep Script Recorder? It’s free and also extremely easy to use. Below is a screen shot of the interface while recording a script.
4. You want to identify third party issues when under heavy load
Perhaps you are using a CDN to host all of your images, or you have a chat function through a third party vendor. It is important that your visitors are able to use and see the features of your website regardless how many users are accessing it. Load testing will allow you to know just which applications are failing to perform and in turn, hold up their end of your service agreement.
5. You have an e-commerce website
If your website is your bread and butter, then you better make sure it functions. This is especially important for websites with a shopping cart. Orders not delivered or sent to wrong address, customers charged for items they never bought, all of these could be side effects of heavy traffic. Your conversion funnel should be set up for load and stress testing on a regular so you know how it is functioning during peak times. This gives you great insight into why your customers could be abandoning your site.
6. You did some major (or minor) updates
Just like I mentioned above with the Amazon pricing mishap, this can also take other forms, such as a recent redesign or platform update. Establishing baseline performance markers and seeing what your pages look like upon load, in real browsers to real users will lower the risk of failure. After installing an update, those performance markers can help narrow the possibility that your updates caused the performance of your website to actually falter.
Tips when setting up load testing
1. Use an outside source
This will allow you to test from multiple locations around the world and simulate actual traffic more accurately, as well as keep your in-house costs down. Load Impact, as well as LoadView, Loader.io and BlazeMeter all allow for you to set up testing locations around the world and many of them at the same time.
2. Ensure your service of choice provides you with actionable data
What good is load testing if you don’t have enough information to take action after testing completes? While all services will give you reports, very few offer customizable reporting. LoadView offers a nice drag and drop reporting dashboard (seen here) for adding graphs and reports, Load Impact will go as far as letting you create custom graphs. Both let you export your data for every single request made, which sets these two platforms apart from the others who offer no customization at all.
3. Choose a provider with the support you need
If you need a higher level of support, be sure to choose a company that offers it. Using LoadView, I learned they have a full support staff, a helpful knowledge base and a series of video tutorials that are a big help.
4. Know what services your platform utilizes
For instance, Blazemeter uses Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform Live, while LoadView uses both of those services, they also utilize Rackspace MyCloud. From what I can see, it is one of the few that utilizes three platforms instead of the standard two.
5. Define baseline performance metrics
This is critical in any area of online testing. Baseline metrics will establish where you are now, when a load test starts to impact the performance of your website or apps and then finally when it goes into failure. Another thing you might want to consider, what would constitute as failure for your website or applications? Establish these metrics right away so you know what you are looking for in terms of performance. Using LoadView, I have been able to store historical data since opening my account, which has been extremely helpful when reporting.
In 2017 you are hard pressed to find a reason NOT to perform regular performance checks on your websites, web apps or other online devices. Most of the services mentioned above also come with an entire suite of monitoring solutions. LoadView is a part of the Dotcom-Monitor load testing platform, therefore every account has access to web page speed tests, mail server testing, streaming video test tools, ping testing and much more within their dashboard. Testing frequently and thoroughly is the only way to ensure your website and web apps are up and running even when you are not looking. Customize your alerts to send you text messages, emails or other forms of notifications so you and those responsible can respond quickly to problems before it affects your customers or bottom line.