[This article was written by Paul Bruce]
Getting More Out of Your Load Tests
You may want to simulate different data for each virtual user in your load test. For instance, making each virtual user use different user credentials and form values for data entry help to drive out any web server or database caching schemes that otherwise would be missing from your test. LoadComplete comes to the rescue with the Parameterization Wizard to help you quickly introduce data from spreadsheets, external databases, or even auto-generated data into your load tests.
Using varying data in your load tests isn’t just nifty, it’s critical producing accurate load testing results because it ensures that your tests thoroughly engage the infrastructure (specifically caching) behind your website.
Similarly, you may want to vary where the load is coming from, and LoadComplete makes this easy too with your choice of both on-premise load agents and Amazon EC2 virtual machines in the cloud.If only certain visitors from a specific geographic location are reporting a very slow experience, but your on-premise load tests don’t produce the problem, it’s time to opt in a cloud agent.This lets you simulate the traffic from anywhere in the world, and LoadComplete even helps you estimate the cost of your cloud load test before running it, to make sure you’re under budget and ready to impress.
Monitor the User Experience Under Load
The metrics you get back from a load test tell you a story of raw web throughput, and this is important because it provides a baseline for understanding how the perceived user experience (UX) is impacted by large volumes of concurrent visitors. But the most useful web performance testing story comes from monitoring your end-user experience while your site is under heavy load.
The front-end experience for visitors is typically where people focus on the most in web performance, and it includes much of the performance problems made visible by load testing alone, but also includes broad-scale network connectivity latencies, client software and hardware rendering capabilities, and other factors in delivery of your software to real users.
Some UX performance problems only manifest themselves under load, so it’s critical to not just rely on monitoring of production assets alone, but automate your load test in order to focus on fixing the cause of the problem instead of simply performing load tests. Having visibility on both the back-end throughput results in LoadComplete as well as the front-end experience in AlertSite UXM, you can feel confident that your load testing strategy helps you to accomplish your desired web performance goals.
The holiday season represents huge opportunities for online retailers, and to maximize your ability to deliver the user experiences your customers demand, LoadComplete can dramatically simplify your load testing efforts. With a performance testing strategy and the right tools in hand, you’ll be better able to adjust and confirm that performance problems are fixed quickly before they affect your website visitors.