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Guest View: Web load testing: Getting it right with just three steps

Joseph Lee, Solution Director for ASEAN, Dynatrace Asia | Oct. 16, 2014
While web load testing forms one of many components in the information systems network, testing plays an integral role in keeping companies from the negative impacts of a bad user experience.

Today's fast paced society has raised the performance benchmarks for applications and changed the way users consume information. Big data, cloud storage, new apps and an increasing volume of devices owned are all part of a mix that puts immense pressure on organizations to ensure end users do not suffer bad experiences.

This is because mistakes and failures due to a poor user experience can be costly and today's definition of a poor user experience is not the same as it was ten years ago. According to a 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group, 25% of users surveyed would abandon a web application after just three seconds of delay1. Long exposure to such issues would eventual lead to lost revenues, brand damage, increased costs and time spent on solving customer complaints.

While an organization may already have a proper monitoring tool in place to keep downtimes at bay, there is a need to ensure that the latest testing tools are robust enough to comprehensively monitor all data traffic. A common mistake made is when IT staff analyzes data in batches and samples. This does not work as missing transactions are allowed to slip through if all data is not collected. As consumers' demands grow, so does the importance of improving internal tests, systems and infrastructure to support the growing traffic.

While web load testing forms one of many components in the information systems network, testing plays an integral role in keeping companies from the negative impacts of a bad user experience. They help decision makers avoid costly mistakes by proactively providing crucial information. This helps prepare businesses for future traffic spikes and further improves integration by monitoring multiple content sources under one unified view.

According to the HTTP Archive Report, which collates information from 300,000 of the web's most popular websites, the average web page has bloated by 32% in 2013 to reach more than 1,700Kb in size2. While pulling resource from third party providers and richer content helps businesses, it also increases the risk of downtimes attributed by external factors. Not only does this impact performance, it also changes the way a test needs to be conducted and also complicates the process of IT maintenance.

In order to ensure the integrity of such tests to support the latest web platforms, businesses should consider several factors and ensure the proper test structure prior to embarking on any new ventures, when making new upgrades or simply running a routine checkup. Below are three steps towards proper web load testing:

Step 1: Defining the right approach

In previous decades, testing was confined to all systems under a company's control. This meant that tests were conducted to identify how fast information is sent and received from a business server. However, as the Internet evolved, the ability to track how information travels from a user experience standpoint took primary importance. This meant tracking how long information took to travel from the time a user request was made to the time the same user receives a response for his or her request.

 

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