Why load testing is not just for Christmas

Date: 23rd February 2016
Author: Louise Arnold

Top 4 reasons to load test your website

We know that load testing is critical when planning for flash sales and other peak traffic periods. But, commercially speaking, it’s important to consider testing as part of an ongoing performance management process rather than a series of individual responses to particular seasonal pressure points. And it’s also a key factor in planning a strategy for high-risk situations, where there’s a very real danger of lost sales and brand damage.

Load testing your website

So when should you consider load testing?

1. In advance of flash sales and peak traffic periods

Naturally, load testing is most commonly carried out when peak traffic is expected. You need to know if your site can handle the expected traffic resulting from periods of increased activity – as well as how performance will be affected if levels rise above projections.

It sounds simple but if your site cracks under the weight of increased footfall, it will have a serious impact on the level of customer conversions and on your brand.

2. Throughout the development process

It’s important to load test a new site during development – following the release of every major build, not least because you’ll benefit from huge savings in time, money and resources if you spot a problem at an early stage of the process.

The sooner you detect a performance issue, the more likely you are to stay on track for launch. Leave testing till the end and you could find yourself facing a costly fix or – in some cases – a complete rebuild.

Testing during development is not as overwhelming as it may at first seem. Load testing in bite sized chunks means smaller tests and more manageable results.

3. Prior to launching a new site or a new release

Launching a new site, going live with a new release or even adding a new feature to an existing site carries a very real risk of failure. It’s essential when moving to production to understand how the new infrastructure will impact performance. Will it live up to your organisation’s marketing hype or will it let you down when it matters?

In our experience even site upgrades often throw up glitches. It makes sense to test ahead of release, so you can pile on the pressure and isolate any performance issues before welcoming customers to your site.

4. Benchmarking/Health check

A benchmark load test, especially after a long period without testing, will provide essential feedback on your current systems, highlighting any areas for improvement or any bottlenecks.

This approach helps to recalibrate and re-establish a point of reference for your website, providing a valuable snapshot of existing performance and creating a base from which to plan for the future.

Acquiring the load testing habit

Planning for load testing is a crucial component of any organisation’s digital performance management process. If you can incorporate testing as part of an ongoing programme – rather than a response to peak traffic periods – you’ll benefit from improved customer experience all year round.

In our next blog we’ll be sharing our step-by-step plan for a failsafe load testing programme. In the meantime, download our load testing white paper, take a look at our helpful load testing blog or visit our information-packed load testing service pages.