I just went to your website and its slow, is your database failing to perform? Can you see the same slow response time I see? I am hoping this introduction to load testing will help you consider eliminating those problems and reach optimal performance for your users.

What is Load Testing?

Load testing introduces and simulates consumer activity, controls the load capacity, records the response time, and defines the stages where the system fails to run. Load testing software can simulate thousands or millions of users and then help analyze the results in real-time. This allows you to see a view how the system responds. The art of load testing enables you to correct the application by identifying where it failed, and the reason for its performance results. This iterative process ensures that the system will be able to operate with high volume engagement, also known as the peak load. With the addition of a load testing software, this will reduce the risk of an issue during the peak load, and if one is encountered, then it will provide analysis on the source that is causing the problem.

How to apply a strategy of load testing?

In our daily lives, we expect fast and reliable applications and websites, everything should be always on; so how does load testing act as a crucial role in delivering this experience to the consumer? To apply this to one of my favorite clothing retailers and e-commerce platforms, PacSun, a popular retail store that from personal experience can be a little faster, we just start thinking about the problem and breaking it down. In the outline below, it describes how load testing would be implemented to optimize the user experience.  

  1. Model what we want to test. Load testing can be used to evaluate all aspects of a website like PacSun; however, in modeling, we should first concentrate on the most active use cases. Several of those would be: 
    1. Similar to any website, the most viewed page is the home page, where the user is initially introduced to the product. 
    2. Consumers are most drawn to the items reading “Flash Sale” and “Major Discount,” making it necessary to test the load capacity. 
    3. Peak load can be constant throughout the majority of the year, however during the holiday season, when the server is experiencing a surge of activity, it is valuable to know how the site will operate when enduring high volume spikes. 
  2. Evaluate the capacity needed for the requirements. Now that we have determined where we want to concentrate, we can model out usage and work with engineering on capacity planning. 
    1. During this stage, you will evaluate prior volume readings and estimate the expected number of users on an ordinary day, as well as during the holiday season.
    2. Identifying a reach point will allow you to perform load tests and ensure the server will be able to handle the expected traffic. Allowing you to inform the engineers if their capacity plans were appropriately modeled. 
  3. Run load tests and check to see if it works as planned.
    1. During the final stage, testing will record if there are enough resources to manage the peak load and determine if the capacity planning was correct. It will also answer questions such as can our servers handle the load or do we need to adjust the application code. 
    2. This will show how the system reacts to a specific volume and if the application needs to be corrected to provide the most convenient customer experience.  

Load testing makes the world a bit faster

I now realize the vast improvements that load testing provides and how it will improve the customer experience, my experience. With the aid of load testing, it has the advantage of improving server reliability and creating an easily accessible website that the consumer can trust. I don’t yet understand why a user-facing service would not run load tests.

To understand actual load testing results I used RedLine13 to sample one of my most commonly searched pages on Pacsun, New Arrivals. As an avid user of this page, and at times frustrated by its load time I was not surprised to find its aggregate performance results. A simple summary of results – sometimes it can over 5 seconds to load the page and sometimes it loads fast.

[PacSun https://www.pacsun.com/new-arrivals/mens worst-case over 5s to load everything on the page]