Performance is essential for ecommerce sites. For every site, app or API, performance is important. But for ecommerce sites, performance translates directly to profits. Try these 3 tips for ecommerce site performance to speed your site for Black Friday and every day. Test early and save a lot of headaches later.
Tip 1: Take the Time to Create Realistic User Scenarios
No-one knows your user behavior better than you. You’ve probably pored over application metrics and analytics. You’ve created in-depth diagrams to map user paths. So take that knowledge to test your ecommerce site performance.
Don’t settle for simple load testing: instead, take the time to create realistic user scenarios. In a simple case, most users might browse, add items to cart and check out. You can create a good sample user scenario with this flow with the LoadImpact Chrome extension (see this article for more info, and the Chrome extension in the Chrome Web Store here)
You can easily adjust that main scenario script after it’s recorded using the LoadImpact app. When you test, you may want to allocate most of the test cycles to that main scenario that replicates what you expect most users to do (or what history tells you they actually do). Similarly, if you have two or more common user behaviors, create main scenarios for those as well.
Also, take the time to create some alternate scenarios. What user behaviors have caused headaches in the past? Replicate those in some alternate scenarios, and be sure to allocate some load testing cycles to ensuring your site can handle those as well.
Tip 2: Make a Plan and Set Goals
Check your analytics and metrics. Find your average traffic numbers; find your maximum, spike traffic numbers. Set your load testing plan accordingly. Allocate resources and testing time to average traffic levels, but prepare for peak periods (Black Friday, holidays, other industry-specific or seasonal peaks).
You may discover that increasing your average traffic by a factor of 10 slows your site considerably. You may then discover that increasing your traffic by a factor of 12 renders the site unusable.
Combine these insights into a testing plan. When you test regularly for average traffic levels, you can tune for day-to-day performance. Then, when you test for peak traffic, you can tune for extraordinary circumstances, and make sure your site either gracefully degrades or that additional resources are available to boost performance on demand.
When you make a testing plan and set performance goals accordingly, you can better benchmark ecommerce site performance continually, eliminating nasty surprises later.
Tip 3: Allocate Time To Run Many Tests, Analyze Trends
The secret to effective load testing is this: test early and often. When you do, you save countless headaches down the road. When you’re under deadline pressure, load testing can be an afterthought. But with a tiny bit of additional planning, you can avoid a lot of stress at the last minute, both on you and your ecommerce site.
Implied in this advice: you have to test more than once. Repeated, regular testing gives you trends to watch. If you’ve set performance goals (see the last tip), you can see how your ecommerce site performance maps to those goals. Seeing the trends gives you perspective on the results from any given test.
Watching trends over multiple tests provides insight into hidden, accidental effects: perhaps a database update broke a previously performant cache. Or perhaps a new mapping API becomes a bottleneck over a certain level of use. Regardless of the cause, watching ecommerce site performance over time through your load tests results helps you pinpoint the cause.
Good luck with your ecommerce site performance during your upcoming busy seasons, and happy testing!