Website Performance Can Make or Break a Company
Most people (even techies) don’t think about website performance until it’s too late. You have a big traffic day like Black Friday or a product launch and your website can’t cope. It takes an eternity for a page to load. Customers give up and go check out your competitors’ sites instead. The CEO tries to show off the website to an important client and the page loads, but the images don’t. A DDoS attack brings down your site and you can’t easily bring it back up.
Website performance testing takes time and money – and there’s never enough of either. But you’ll lose more time and money if you don’t do any performance testing. It’s too big a risk. Website performance can make or break a company.
Be sure to perform website performance testing well in advance of your big traffic days. That way you’ll have time to address any problems.
Types of Website Performance Testing
Load testing examines how well a website performs with a large (but reasonable) number of visitors. With heavy traffic, pages may take longer than usual to load or errors could pile up causing a slowdown or crash. A cloud-based testing solution like LoadView will send virtual users to your site from all over the globe. LoadView’s reports will show any problems that arise during load testing for easy troubleshooting.
Stress Testing reveals how your website deals with a crash. You can use the same testing tool and test scripts that you used with load testing and simply increase the number of visitors until the site crashes. The point isn’t just to see how much your site can take. You want to see if your site can go down gracefully, display appropriate error messages, and restore itself with minimal data loss.
Before You Start Website Performance Testing
Performance testing is meaningless if you don’t specify enough virtual visitors. Find out how much traffic your site received on your busiest day in the past year. Then find out what kind of increase you should expect. Your load test should test for even more users than that. Expect the company to succeed beyond the Marketing Department’s wildest dreams and then make sure your website can handle it.
Your test cases should be more than just navigating between web pages. Re-use test cases from functional testing that reflect normal site usage. Emulate users comparing products, adding them to a shopping cart, checking out, signing up for an e-mail newsletter, and so on. Include negative test cases meant to elicit errors – empty entry fields, invalid data, etc.
Find out which browsers and platforms your site visitors use. A comprehensive testing solution like LoadView will let you test for a broad range of these. Don’t forget mobile platforms – website performance is especially crucial for mobile users because they have slower connections than with other platforms. Mobile users probably account for more than half of your site traffic, so you ignore mobile at your own peril.
Ideally, you’ll run performance tests every time something changes – a new server, a new website feature, and updated database. Website performance testing takes much less time than functional testing, so it should be easy to find room for it in your project schedules.