Load Testing Web Applications


Why You Need to Load Test Web Applications

Retailers and e-commerce businesses thrive on click rates, but when abandonment rates rise, it can hit their revenue hard. That’s why successful companies weave load tests into their development journey. These tests help them ensure their websites can handle the load, size their hardware correctly, and know their IT service limits. Let’s dive deeper into why load testing web applications matters in this article.

Load testing of web applications is imperative for several reasons. Firstly, it enables developers to optimize performance by identifying and rectifying bottlenecks and performance issues under different load conditions, thereby enhancing user experience. Secondly, load testing allows for the assessment of scalability, ensuring that applications can accommodate increasing user traffic without compromising performance or stability. Thirdly, it helps assure the reliability of applications by uncovering potential issues such as server overload or network latency that may affect availability and uptime. Additionally, load testing serves as a crucial risk mitigation strategy, identifying performance issues early in the development process to prevent unexpected downtime or system crashes in production environments. Overall, load testing is essential for building robust web applications that deliver optimal performance, reliability, and scalability, ultimately maximizing user satisfaction and business success.


Use Cases:

The idea that 90 percent of all user interactions must be below two seconds is a classic example of a non-functional requirement. Clearly, manual testing isn’t feasible here as you must simulate the anticipated load to verify that 90th percentile response times meet these criteria for all user actions.

Another use case for load tests is to verify the sizing of the actual or required hardware. Companies are increasingly mindful of trimming IT expenses and avoiding overprovisioning. While CPU and memory usage may remain low during single-user tasks, the scenario changes drastically under concurrent user loads. Excessive system resource consumption negatively affects response times, and oversized hardware proves costly. Through load tests, you can pinpoint the right sizing for your hardware needs.

From an operational standpoint, it’s crucial to grasp the onset of service failures in specific workload scenarios. Whether it’s the sharp spikes of Black Friday loads or consistently high usage, both situations can trigger significant issues. Temporary capacity boosts may suffice for the former, while the latter demands a permanent increase in capacity. Load tests are indispensable in providing insights into these critical scenarios, guiding appropriate capacity planning and mitigation strategies.


Web Application Load Testing Tools

Nearly three decades ago, the pioneers of the web began crafting load simulation platforms as web pages remained simple, primarily static content. Fast forward to today’s landscape, where cloud and SaaS-based technologies have proliferated, offering a myriad of services accessible through web browsers. With this evolution comes competition, as businesses fight to retain or attract customers by enhancing service quality. One avenue for improvement lies in delivering responsive and dependable applications.

Early leaders like JMeter and LoadRunner were traditionally deployed on local machines. However, with the introduction of cloud computing, many have expanded their offerings to include SaaS or on-demand load testing platforms. There’s plenty of open source and commercial load testing tools out there.


On-Premises or On-Demand for Web Application Testing Tools

Managing a local load testing infrastructure can pose significant challenges. Consequently, many successful companies opt for a cloud-based alternative, alleviating the burdens associated with operating local load testing farms. The advantage lies in the absence of maintenance tasks or fees, with clients only paying for the services they need.

LoadView offers a fully cloud-based solution, sparing you and your team from the hassle of installing additional programs, setting up load injectors, and manually configuring tests. With LoadView, you gain access to these benefits and more, including API monitoring and testing capabilities. Leveraging a comprehensive network of load injector locations spanning Amazon Web Services and Azure Cloud Services, LoadView enables you to scale your load tests effortlessly. With over 40 geographic locations to choose from, you can save valuable time and concentrate on running load tests on real browsers directly from the cloud.


Best Load Testing Practices on Web Applications

Load testing is a critical aspect of ensuring the performance, reliability, and scalability of web applications. By simulating realistic user traffic and analyzing system behavior under various load conditions, load testing helps identify potential bottlenecks and performance issues before they impact end users. To optimize the effectiveness of load testing on web applications, several best practices should be followed:

  1. Define Clear Objectives: Before conducting load tests, it’s essential to define clear objectives and performance goals. Determine what aspects of the application you want to test, such as response times, throughput, or server capacity. Clear objectives will guide the testing process and ensure that meaningful insights are gained.
  2. Create Realistic Scenarios: Develop load testing scenarios that accurately reflect real-world usage patterns and user behavior. Consider factors such as peak usage times, geographic distribution of users, and different types of user interactions. Modern web applications typically require a real browser-based virtual user simulation technique. For this reason, the LoadView solution provides the EveryStep Web Recorder. This tool can be used to quickly script these complex and critical user scenarios, like searching for a product, logging in to a portal, or the shopping cart path to purchase. This allows you to better understand how your applications perform as these steps are carried out under load.
  3. Start Small and Scale Up: Begin load testing with a small number of virtual users and gradually increase the load until reaching the desired levels. This approach allows for the identification of performance bottlenecks and scalability issues at each stage of the testing process. Scaling up incrementally ensures a more thorough evaluation of the application’s performance under increasing loads.
  4. Monitor Key Metrics: During load testing, monitor key performance metrics such as response times, error rates, and server resource utilization. These metrics provide valuable insights into the application’s performance and help identify areas for improvement. Utilize monitoring tools to track performance in real-time and generate comprehensive reports for analysis.
  5. Iterate and Improve: Load testing is an iterative process, and continuous improvement is essential for optimizing application performance over time. Analyze test results, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes to address performance issues. By iterating on load testing efforts, you can continually enhance the reliability and scalability of web applications.

When dealing with new services not yet deployed in production, leveraging Little’s Law to calculate the load pattern can provide valuable insights. However, if the service is already live and being used by real customers, analyzing log files becomes crucial. From these records, derive metrics such as user interactions per hour and the number of concurrent sessions. Consider actual average loads, spikes during events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and anticipated growth patterns when conducting tests.


Final Thoughts on Load Testing Web Applications

Remember, performance improvement is an ongoing process rather than a one-time achievement. The earlier you identify performance issues in your development cycle, the easier it is to address them. Begin by conducting component or service-based load tests during the development stages, aiming for daily test executions and setting thresholds to pinpoint breaking points. As the application integrates with surrounding systems, transition to more advanced real-user simulation scenarios during QA stages. Take the first step with LoadView – sign up now and receive free load tests to kickstart your performance journey!