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Realistic load testing models for Black Friday 2017

28th June 2017

In our first post focusing on the importance of preparation for Black Friday 2017, we detailed how the countdown for website owners had begun and the need to put a plan in place to cope with the traffic was essential. From preparing a comprehensive load test schedule to working across departments to identify agreed objectives, ensuring your platform is set to undergo a comprehensive series of load checks is essential for the arrival of the big day.

But what are the next stages in the testing process and what should you be prioritising today?

At this stage, the development of a realistic load test model capable of delivering the most accurate data necessary must be the point of focus. The complexities of a modern ecommerce platform, however, mean that effectively replicating the habits and behaviour of your visitors is beyond the scope of many load testing services. Scripting the perfect journeys for testing such complexities is therefore key. An effective load test model needs to:

  • Emulate realistic visitor behaviour
  • Follow a realistic sequence of events
  • Introduce elements of randomness in behaviour
  • Model a selection of customer journeys and drop-off ratios

Accuracy in load testing

Load testing has evolved beyond simply measuring traditional metrics such as concurrent users. Instead, the development of your load test model has to be capable of performing myriad tasks in order to return an accurate representation of the user experience provided by your website.

At thinkTRIBE, we often speak of the importance of being able to ‘do what your customer does’, and delivering a level of realism that is otherwise unavailable in DIY load testing services. It’s this realistic approach that delivers commercially valuable data that helps you better understand your site. Together with analysis of results from previous years, being able to anticipate how well your ecommerce platform will hold up under the increased traffic of Black Friday 2017 is simplified.

Realistic load testing for Black Friday 2017

Load test model guidelines

What, though, does a realistic load test model look like? There are a number of factors to incorporate in order to achieve the required results you need, so adopting a holistic approach to load testing that takes into account the full user experience is key.

You should, above all, prioritise the development of a test model that scripts realistic journeys. Not all visitors perform the same actions when on your website, so creating journeys that do just that will not provide the actionable data you require to prepare your website for Black Friday 2017. Instead, you need to construct journeys that include randomness, variation, and which follow different routes to the same end goal. Without such variation in user performance, trying to ascertain whether your website has the capacity to withstand the demands of Black Friday will be impossible to judge.

Peak traffic is unpredictable. Being able to incorporate a level of this unpredictability through realistic load testing enables you to experience a more accurate appraisal of how you can anticipate your website performing come November 24, 2017.

Measuring current capacity

When it comes to preparing your load test model for the peak sales period, it pays to conduct a thorough assessment of current website performance in order to establish baseline measures when faced with normal loads. By load testing some five-to-six months prior to Black Friday itself, and measuring normal capacity performance, you can pinpoint where issues and weaknesses may arise and those refinements to your code that need to be addressed.

You may even be looking at developing a pared-down version of your site specifically to cover the demands of Black Friday. If so, locking down the code early and load testing in isolation is essential, helping ensure a benchmark for performance is set and complete optimisation is finished at the earliest possible stage.

As an ecommerce platform entering the biggest online shopping day of the year, knowing that you’ve conducted thorough early stage testing to identify – and resolve – any issues affecting user experience is vital for peace of mind. After all, being able to put your trust in your platform to deliver the sales and revenue your business demands will ensure that all key stakeholders can look forward to a successful day’s trading.

Ensure user journeys complete without issues this Black Friday 2017

Put your trust in realism

It’s worth reiterating that preparation for Black Friday should be a considered, step-by-step process and not something that is left until the last minute. Overcoming the challenges presented – not only by technical requirements, but by the demands of other departments within an organisation – brings the peace of mind that stability and performance will not be compromised. But early action is required.

At thinkTRIBE, we believe that the creation of accurate load test models that embrace realistic journeys is the only way to accurately anticipate the level of stress your website will experience during peak periods. Our Black Friday website load testing service is fully managed by a dedicated team of load test specialists, enabling you to put your full trust in the data provided and determine where improvements need to be made.

Contact thinkTRIBE for Black Friday load testing

Find out more about the website load testing services available from thinkTRIBE today by contacting us on 01227 768276. You can also download our Black Friday Preparation whitepaper for more details on how to take the necessary steps to getting your ecommerce platform ready for Black Friday 2017.

Download our Best Practice Guide to Preparing for Black Friday ebook today


Next month we will look at the effects changes to you platform have on testing, and how you should be looking to test early and regularly in order to correct any issues that arise.