Finally! Your site has hit the big time and your traffic is off the charts. Congratulations: is your site performance up to the task? Here’s a case where “be careful what you wish for” rings true: when that traffic rush hits, the best way to prevent disaster is with performance testing.
When should you plan for that traffic rush? Now. Start today.
It doesn’t matter what you are anticipating: it could be the Q4 rush, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It could be an upcoming marketing promotion. Perhaps your site sees huge traffic around a holiday. Or you’re bringing on a new partner and you’re anticipating heavier API use.
No matter what the reason, the time to start planning is now, and performance testing promises to help prevent a “disaster” when your site can’t handle the traffic.
The simple, three-step approach to preventing disaster:
- Decide what you need.
You have to know what you want in order to achieve it. Is your performance slower than competitors? Do you anticipate traffic at 10x, 100x, 1000x current rates? Do you just need an overall site speed update?
This step doesn’t have to be complex: you just need somewhere to start. Start with a reasonable estimate or a hypothesis and work from there. In a pinch, take our rule of thumb: make sure every page loads, every action happens within at least two seconds. Choose something you can measure.
- Make a plan.
So you have a starting point for what you want to improve, and how to measure it. Now you can create a test plan.
You are not going to worry about everything you can measure. Instead, you can focus on the one measurement you’ve considered critical, be it site speed, load speed, traffic load, and so on.
Make a straightforward plan for testing that metric: start, perhaps, by testing it today to create a baseline, then again in a few days after you’ve tried some performance tweaks. Thereafter, you may want to test it daily when you make code changes.
You may also choose to do a major, performance-based test less frequently - what we often call a stress test - to see how your site performs under very heavy load. Your plan may include a regular stress tests that’s less frequent than the regular daily testing you’re using as a barometer.
- Test, Evaluate, Repeat
Now that you’ve created a plan, do it. Run the tests and evaluate the results. Adjust your test plan as appropriate, and adjust your site code, components, and so forth.
The most critical element: repeat. Continued testing means you’re less likely to be surprised with a performance “disaster:” you’ve addressed performance issues now, and then you’re testing and monitoring to catch any future issues as they arise.
Try this framework to help you prevent “disasters” with performance testing, and then dig in deeper to make your tests even better and more accurate.