Ever wonder how two seemingly disparate notions – the conversion rate and load testing affect each other? There is a direct dependence between the website’s performance and resource attractiveness for users. The purpose of load testing is to assess the operations of web resources and spot possible bottlenecks for further performance enhancement. Let us explore via the example of Black Friday.
This high-profile event usually improves e-merchants’ chances to boost sales, which they owe to surging traffic on their websites. The conversion rate during Black Fridays has decreased gradually, from 34.47% in 2011 to 27.19% in 2015. What are the possible reasons for the decrease? Alongside with the website complexity, security concerns and cost-related issues, the main reasons why customers leave without buying are websites crashing, having time-outs or generally being slow.
The statistics just prove that website malfunction has a huge impact on businesses: a single minute costs $4,700 on average. However, there are several ways to avoid the downtime or narrow down its effect, and one of them is to perform load tests in advance. Indeed, a proper check allows avoiding 75% of malfunction cases.
The Load Testing Definition
Fast and reliable resource performance contributes to higher user satisfaction and encourages customer loyalty. Traffic increase should not affect the response time and customer satisfaction.
To explore and estimate the website’s operation specificity, which is its traffic, speed, scalability and stability, a team conducts performance tests. The role of performance testing in software testing is to examine the following criteria:
- A page’s download speed, under the normal conditions
- The necessity or lack thereof of optimizing server hardware
- The possibility or inability to optimize the performance without the change of a particular server hardware (scalability)
- The influence that a heavy request increase has on page retrieval time
- The number of requests when the server stops processing them or reduces the response number drastically
Depending on the purpose of the performance examination, it falls into the following types:
- Traditional load testing. This method examines how the website behaves under standard and expected peak traffic.
- Stress tests. It allows identifying how it performs under abnormal conditions, whether it does not respond or responds with a significant delay. Also, it helps measure the peak operation capability.
- Capacity testing. The method estimates how many users and transactions the website can handle, under the condition that the performance meets the declared level.
So, what is load testing in software testing? This type allows examining the website’s behavior patterns under various traffic volumes and conditions. Also, it helps find the vulnerable spots.
The factual reproduction of real-life use scenarios before launching a test procedure is critical for obtaining the most credible assessment results. That is why a team needs to analyze real and forecast data that are built on statistical information, which allows compiling a proper load profile. As an example, it may include the following parameters:
- The number of requests
- The time of day
- Promotions in action
- Time of year for season articles
The Load Testing Checklist
To help companies significantly improve their websites’ performance under extreme conditions and increase the conversion rate, SaM Solutions has developed a guideline. Here are the recommendations on how to do load testing and the steps that the process should include:
- Test plan development. The test plan should determine the following issues:
o Items to be tested, their configuration and features that are excluded from the verification
o Verification method
o Pass and fail criteria
o Process duration and scheduling
- Base scenario definition. During this step, the team defines basic transitions that users perform when they interact with the website.
- Test tool selection. The team chooses the tools that are best suited for the inspection of a specific website.
- Metric identification. This step implies the determination of the metrics to estimate performance parameters.
- Acceptance criterion definition. To estimate whether the performance is satisfactory or not, the team works out acceptance criteria.
- Test scenario creation. At this stage, the team simulates user behavior patterns.
- Test environment configuration. Test environment allows reproducing the environment in which customers browse.
- The execution of the verification process.
- Test result analysis. To estimate the website’s performance, the team analyzes the test results.
- Test report development. The team prepares the test report and delivers it to the client.
The Load Testing Tool Compilation
We will not venture into the analysis of the best tools without knowing your business and IT specifics. To select proper tools, a company should consider the following parameters:
- Required protocol support
- License fees
- Expenses on staff tool-training
- Available software and hardware
- The support and update policy that vendors of various tools provide
- Company’s preference
We compiled a short list of three popular tools, just to take a glance at key features and shortcomings various load testing tools may have.
A free open-source tool, JMeter is based on Java. It allows the measuring the performance indicators under various use conditions and is primarily used for the revision of web applications. Its key features are:
- Numerous injectors that are managed via a single controller
- Does not require cutting-edge infrastructure
- Supports various protocols, such as HTTP, SOAP, SMTP, JMS, TCP, FTP, LDAP, POP3
- Record-and-play feature
- Pre- and post-processors, the Listener, the Sampler for performance report generation
- Not bound to a specific platform
A tool for stress tests, LoadUI enables the quick creation of sophisticated tests that do not require scripts, their distribution on the cloud via load agents and performance control. There are two versions of the tool: one that is free, and one that is not, and both are designed for the verification of web software. The main tool’s features are:
- Numerous technologies, such as AJAX, Flash, Silverlight, ASP.NET and Flex
- Various web services: JMS, AMF, JDBC and REST
- Integrates with SoapUI
- Record-and-play feature
- Data parameterization and correlation
- Above-average data analysis and reporting
- Test automation on Bamboo, Jenkins and other frameworks
- Out-of-the-box stress, smoke, spike and baseline test templates
- Numerous technologies: .Net, Mobile, Cloud, HTML5, Oracle Forms, Web 2.0 and Adobe Flex
- Various web protocols, such as TCP, UDP, HTTP, NNTP, POP3, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, TELNET, LDAP and IMAP
- Traffic generation
- Record-and-play feature
- Advanced analytics and reporting
- Extensive IDE
- Dynamic data parameterization and correlation
- Automated bug detection
- Traffic generation both in the cloud and on-premise
To take a closer look at each of the tools’ benefits and limitations, see the comparison table below.
Test the Load to Increase the Conversion Rate
Load testing is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of a quality assurance team. By spotting bottlenecks and bugs in website performance in the early stages of the development cycle, it allows making timely modifications and amendments. Smooth website operation contributes to increased user satisfaction and loyalty – factors that increase the conversion rate.