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The Performance Guidepost
How to Improve Your Website Performance | The Performance Testing Guide

 

How do you improve your website performance? What actions do you take when it’s not going north? More importantly, how do you make sense of a spike in website traffic and sustain it? What tools help you carry out website performance testing? Let’s explore all these areas together in this blog post.

Imagine you open your analytics dashboard like every other day. But today is different! Today, you notice the number of visitors has touched a new high. Sure brings a smile on your face. You continue tracking it and it keeps increasing. However, after a few hours it suddenly drops all of a sudden.

You wonder what happened and try to understand the events that unfolded. Why the drop in visits? You discover that your colleague had started a cool promotion, which brought in an unusual amount of traffic. This increased the website load multifold and the site could not take the load and crashed.

A poor show, in spite of the excellent job by your marketing team.

What could have been done to avoid such a situation. How could you have offered a better customer experience through excellent website usability? And avoided the drop in site visitors, and perhaps sales?

Website performance testing is the answer to unanticipated site load.

What is Website Performance Testing?

Triple “S” check is a must for public facing websites looking to improve website performance.

  • Speed – Determines whether the application responds quickly.
  • Scalability – Determines maximum user load the software application can handle.
  • Stability – Determines if the application is stable under varying loads.

And all three can be measured using performance testing.

Performance testing is the investigation done either to determine or to prove the response time, scalability and performance of a website. This ensures the website performs well under the expected regular workload, at peak load and uncover inconsistencies across different operating systems or devices.

The goal of performance testing is not to find bugs but to eliminate performance bottlenecks and tune the system for maximum load. This is also to determine the maximum threshold the website can take.

Common Performance Problems
Poor Response Time:

Once the user performs an action and she has to wait for so long before the response is provided. This can lead to poor user experience and high exit rate.

Poor Load Distribution:

Poor load distribution can cause slow response time by incorrectly assigning new site visitors to hanged up servers. If too many people are on the same server, they’re going to experience difficulties, even if the overall system is well under capacity. Check the sites of some of the big players and you will notice the site loads in a flash of moments.

Types of Performance Testing
Load Test:

Generally, a load test is conducted to understand the behavior of a system under the specific expected load. It helps identify the maximum operating capacity of an application as well as any bottlenecks and determine which element is causing degradation. For example, if the number of users increases then how much CPU, memory will be consumed, what is the network and bandwidth response time.

It also helps in measuring the response time, throughput rates, and resource-utilization levels, and to identify the breaking point, and the peak load the website can handle.

This can answer specific performance related questions. Like, what is the maximum number of users that can use the system without any impact on performance and acceptable response time?

Stress Test:

Stress testing refers to the testing of a website to determine whether its performance is satisfactory under any extreme and unfavourable conditions. These conditions may occur as a result of heavy network traffic, process loading and maximum requests for resource utilization. Stress testing enables to identify how the website behaves under extreme load conditions.

This will answer questions like what is the maximum peak load the system can handle and determine if the system will perform sufficiently if the current load goes well above the expected maximum limits?

Soak/Endurance Test:

This is usually done to determine if the system can sustain the continuous expected load. This helps in detecting potential memory leaks and utilization. Also to check the performance degradation when the system is being used for long duration.

This can answer questions like, if the promotion becomes very popular and the load of system is way beyond for a very long duration, can the system handle such situations?

Spike Test:

Spike testing is a subset of stress testing.  A spike test is a type of performance test focused on determining reaction to a sudden large spikes in the load generated by users.

This lets you know if the system can handle a sudden spike of users when a competitor promotion results in users visiting your site because you’re already running similar promotions.

Tools

Lots of performance testing tools are available for different types of tests and it is quite difficult to cover all types of test using one.

Jmeter is one of the renowned open source tool designed to load test functional behavior and measure performance.

Let’s explore more about Jmeter and its functioning in the upcoming blog.

Meet User Expectations with Proper Performance Testing

Performance Testing is a must before the website goes to market as poor performance and inconsistent behavior of the site may lead to inadequate reputation, poor user experience and will not meet the sales goals.

It’s a must to perform performance testing at the initial stages of building a website and regularly at different intervals. Analytics can help monitor the peak loads and help plan to improve website performance. This can go a long way in building customer trust, relation and not only retain but expand customer base. Let’s read about that too in another upcoming blog.

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Preeti Singh

September 28, 2016

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