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Why no online business can afford to ignore load testing

07th March 2019

Many businesses – even those who successfully trade online – are struggling to stay profitable in the current economic conditions. At the end of 2018, internet fashion retailer Asos issued a shock profit warning, while other trusted brands including Next and Marks & Spencer have also posted declines. In tough times, it’s even more important to deliver an exceptional online customer experience that will reinforce brand values and make the most of every opportunity for a profitable transaction.

Which is why planning for load testing is a crucial component of any organisation’s web management process. If you can incorporate testing as part of an ongoing site optimisation programme – rather than a last-minute response to peak traffic periods – you’ll benefit from improved performance all year round. And, if customers can quickly and easily find the information they want, it removes a barrier to engagement – which can only be a good thing.

Load testing is essential to ensure that key routes that visitors take across a website – can manage high volumes of traffic and concurrent users performing transactions, at the most critical times. If you are implementing a major web development, a new application, online service or infrastructure change you need to have confidence that it will deliver the best experience to all users, whatever the reason for visiting, at the busiest times.

What makes an effective load test?

Load testing is designed to assess how a website performs under both normal and anticipated peak load conditions, helping to identify potential pinch-points and bottlenecks. But this kind of in-depth analysis can only be gained by using testing protocols based on real user traffic data and which replicate a realistic sequence of events.

In this way, you can not only ensure your website is resilient enough to respond under pressure but also gain important insights about how customers’ behaviour impacts particular areas of your web provision. Load testing protocols need to be based on real user traffic and follow realistic sequences of events; online customer journeys and test a mix of those journeys.

Effective load testing needs to reflect the increasing complexity and sophistication that online platforms now deliver. It should cover not only a mixture of different journeys, but a balance of journeys that realistically reflect activity at different times on your website. Your traffic profile should also replicate drop-off ratios, including the percentages of visitors who perform a search, add items to their basket or pass through to the check out, for instance. Any test should also check that page content tallies with expectation and that crucial step links are operational.

Benefits of load testing:

  • Confidently plan for peak times and new releases on the most complex site
  • Evaluate performance accurately
  • Gain crucial insights based on real behaviour
  • Can base business decisions on hard evidence
  • Identifies bottle necks and breaking points under heavy load conditions

Staying ahead of the game

thinkTRIBE delivers data you can trust as part of a fully managed solution that’s a low-maintenance option for your tech team. We take your analytics, define a realistic load test model, schedule and monitor the test for you. Our load test engineers replicate a realistic traffic profile representative of genuine user behaviour you’d expect to see. This includes multi step journeys, a realistic mix of customer journeys and drop-off ratios – all essential for accurate results.