As with people, regular checkups can ensure your site’s healthy performance. You’re more likely to find small issues before they become big problems when you consistently perform site performance checkups.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of testing only occasionally, once a year, or when you see site performance significantly degraded. But - just like a human going to the doctor only when something seems wrong, we know that’s the wrong approach.
Instead, consistent, continuous load testing yields best results. Like a regular checkup, consistent testing ensures healthy site performance. And “continuous,” of course, implies that you’ve achieved consistent testing through integration with your continuous delivery or continuous integration efforts (CD and CI).
For example, you may find that after the marketing team updates a portion of the site, a particular section of the site loads much too slowly. (Remember, “too slowly” is anything over two seconds per page load, with an ideal load time of under a second.) If you’re consistently testing, you’ll have already spotted the issues as you do load testing. Your continuous integration means that when you run a nightly build, your load testing as part of that build flagged those pages as too slow. Your two-second threshold will have been crossed, flagging those pages as having an issue.
A few more tests, following our slow marketing page example, might indicate that the marketing team is using unoptimized images. Perhaps for a page of 600x600 staff photos they’ve uploaded full-size, original resolution images, relying on resizing in the browser. (Yes, this is a problem we see regularly.) Now that your consistent, continuous load testing illustrated the problem, you can catch it early (perhaps teaching the marketing team about the glories of compressor.io) before it affects site performance at its peak.
(Tip: if you haven’t done it recently, check your site today to make sure you’re compressing images correctly and consistently. Nearly every site we encounter could improve its image compression, and it’s a quick win for your site performance.)
It doesn’t take long to think of many other examples of issues you might catch early in the process. You might find that an address lookup API during checkout has slowed or is timing out. Or perhaps a shipping rate lookup API suddenly takes 10x as long to return its data. API calls, ideally minimized anyway, are often overlooked in casual testing. Yet consistent checkups catch them early on.
Consistent, continuous performance checkups with load testing illuminate other issues before your heaviest traffic makes them showstoppers. Regular checkups also give you the luxury of optimizing your pages’ loading sequence. For example, because you’re consistently testing with each build, you have time to try changing the sequence in which page elements and features load. Changing that sequence can improve performance - or not - and your consistent load testing gives you that answer. Similarly, you can optimize for the most critical pieces in a critical user path: cart or checkout, for example.
No matter where you focus, you’ll find real benefits with your regular checkups to ensure your site’s health. Performance is the most critical element of success once you’ve hit the site’s basic capabilities, and load testing helps you ensure that success.