“In early years an average web page was ~300K, 50 objects. Today 679K & 85 objects < Great answer for…Why you should load test.”
When a site is under load, the page size and number of objects is usually not the problem. We solved this delimna 10 years ago, and it’s called a content delivery network. Anyone can deliver static content.
The problem is application stability under load. Indeed, the cloud promises this but isn’t a solution for good architecture and the hard work designing a system without singular bottlenecks. The real reason we load test is to determine how well the application scales under a realistic load, modeled correctly.
How do you resolve the bottlenecks? Do you understand your system’s queuing behavior? These are the real questions that load testing answers.
Explore better options for Web Load Testing from the Internet cloud, whether you want to do it yourself or have someone do it for you.
As we’ve mentioned here before, adopting cloud computing strategies can generate transformative advantages for IT organizations, but not without important considerations. Reducing cost and improving user experience can be achieved by moving applications and infrastructure to the cloud.
So how do CIOs get started, and more importantly, enforce and improve the quality of service they deliver to the business in a cloud paradigm? Vik Chaudhary recently spoke with the editors at CIO Insight on how companies can take advantage of the cloud with three straightforward recommendations.View The Video
One is that users are much less tenacious, much less tolerant of poor performance. Five, six years ago there was still the sense of novelty. Today, though, they’re using the Internet for very critical things, critical utility, be that trading stocks or looking at bank accounts or making purchases.
Delivering complex functionality in a manner that satisfies high user expectations requires a tremendous infrastructure, which in itself exponentially multiplies the opportunity for slow performance or outright failures. To deliver a customized “my” page on a site such as Yahoo! or Google or one of the news portals, for example, may require hundreds of servers. And running a search-and-transaction site such as eBay takes a huge amount of processing horsepower.
Whether the objective is to reduce abandonment rates, to increase self service and reduce call center loads (and costs), to increase average sales or repeat purchases, performance monitoring is critical to acquiring the data needed to formulate sound Web strategies and tactics. Web performance is the common denominator underneath every Web site metric and is fundamental to achieving any Web site goal.
Things can and do go wrong at any step of the way — in the site’s own internal network, over the Internet backbone, across the last mile of the local ISP, or on the user’s desktop. Site operators employ a number of strategies to monitor this complex path and pinpoint the many problems that inevitably come up.
It may seem like a lot to worry about, but by following a performance monitoring strategy that keeps up with new devices and Web services accessed by these devices, you can turn this challenge into a competitive strength for your business.
The place to start is with benchmarks to establish online performance goals for all your online sites that can then be monitored, measured and improved over time. The needs of broadband and mobile users are quite different, so you should be benchmarking both types. Broadband sites include far more graphics and audio-hungry features, because there is speed to spare to deliver them. Mobile sites are usually pared down to get out just the basic information to customers, while cutting out the flashy extras due to mobile bandwidth and screen size limitations.
In addition, your monitoring should emulate the kinds of devices and Internet access services your customers are using so you can get real-time data on the performance they are experiencing first-hand. For example, if iPhones and Android devices via the AT&T and Verizon Wireless are the mobile devices and services of choice for your customers, those are the key things you should be monitoring to be sure your sites are serving them well.
Slow page loads make for a bad user experience that can cause visitors to abandon sites. Recent studies suggest that visitors expect a page to load in just two seconds. So ad delivery that slows page performance down, or videos that take forever to stream, have a real financial impact. The site owner potentially loses revenue because they are delivering less traffic to the advertiser. The ad networks take a hit because it lowers the number of eyeballs they are delivering as well. And the advertisers themselves are not getting the exposure they are counting on to market their products or services.
All three parties then — site owner, ad network and advertiser — have a stake in understanding where the performance issues lie. With accurate performance data in hand, site owners can demand that ad networks perform to their minimum standards, or they can switch their sites to competitive networks (after making sure, that is, that their own page construction is optimized for best performance). Ad networks, in turn, can use the data to improve their delivery or to demonstrate to clients that they are delivering as promised. And advertisers can know if their message is getting out, and if it isn’t, they can explore alternate channels for their advertising.
Just a few years ago, when broadband envy was a common condition and DSL was considered high-speed, testing Web site performance was largely an internal affair. Follow basic best practices in building the site, make sure the servers were up and the pipes open, and you were ready for business. Consumers coming off the painful slowness of dial-up had far lower expectations and far greater patience.
But that all seems like such a long time ago. While the U.S., at 60 percent broadband penetration, ranks 20th (!) globally (far behind South Korea’s 95 percent), a solid majority of U.S. users now have fast connections.x They’re paying for speed, and they expect sites to be fast. Add in rich functionality, video, Flash, etc., and you’re looking at an experience made or broken by site performance — performance that can no longer be effectively measured from the inside out.
Believe it or not, some major U.S. retailers still do not have an organized regimen for external testing of their sites, or for determining if they can handle a heavy surge in holiday traffic.
In the broadest sense, testing falls into two categories: ongoing evaluation and tweaking to optimize daily performance, and peak load testing to determine overall site capacity and potential breakpoints.
In either case, the only way to quantify user experience is to measure what users are actually experiencing. Unless you’re the local bike shop serving only your immediate area, the testing needs to be done across a wide geography and multiple backbones. And it needs to use an actual Web browser, and go through the same type of page view sequences and transactions as a typical user would. There’s simply no other way to get a true perspective on what users are really experiencing.
Web load testing lets you test and analyze software applications in determining performance, capacity and transaction handling capabilities in a real world usage condition. With the help of these tests and measurements, the web load testing tools should help pinpoint bottle necks with root cause analysis helping IT staff in better planning of computing resources.
The analysis from load tests provide guidance to the IT staff allowing them to make better decisions with respect to applications and the technology involved. Load testing being an ongoing process, needs to be regularly scheduled in sync, throughout the lifecycle of an application.
Web application load testing should be considered as part of the overall strategy. IT Teams must include, and develop a testing approach throughout the life-cycle of the application including the development stages. Load testing is required at all critical stages of the application lifecycle, from design and development till the production stages.
Knowing the capacity and scalability of business and mission critical Web sites is extremely important and proper load testing is the best way to acquire this knowledge. When web load testing is not done properly, the results are at best useless and, in the worst case, misleading, causing a company to either underestimate or overestimate a site’s capacity. This wrong result could cause unnecessary expenses, delays or potentially disastrous business decisions.
Unless you do a retinal scan on your visitors, the information you get is not going to be as accurate as you might like. However, knowing unique users is still extremely useful and necessary for load testing.
Read More on The Science of Web Based Testing.
Online behavior variables deal with behavioral differences between users. Some users, for example, read Web pages and navigate Web sites faster than others; we call this difference User Interaction Speed.
Interaction speed is very relevant because, in a given amount of time, a fast user is able to go through more Web pages than a slower user. This results in more requests and therefore a higher load, for the Web site under test. These variables are used in combination with other Web site Usage Signature variables to create realistic distributions.
Web load testing that does not consider these variations is simply not realistic and will generate misleading results. By combining the average viewing time with the user interaction speed variable and taking into account the user’s familiarity with the Web site, you create loads that simulate real usage much more accurately.
Website performance issues arise when any component of the Web infrastructure is stressed and cannot adapt under high user load. You need to perform Web load testing to find out how many concurrent visitors your site can serve at any given time. As load increases on your Website, Web load testing identifies factors that can impact web performance of your site, especially those that can negatively affect a visitor’s experience.
A great way to make sure that your Web pages are loading easily and functioning properly under stress is to test your Website and individual Web pages under load. Identify the maximum operating capacity of your site or application, and in turn allows you to locate bottlenecks that could interfere with the optimal functioning of your Website.
Read More about Web Load Testing.