Why Load Testing Your Website is Necessary Before Peak Traffic Seasons

Article By LDA Interactive Staff

With the holiday season approaching fast, now is as good of a time as ever to ensure that you are ready to handle spikes in traffic.  If your website is not ready, not only will you not capitalize on the surges in traffic, but you likely won’t capitalize on anything because your website will be down.  Bottom like is that you should plan on incorporating load testing earlier rather than later to avoid costly performance issues down the line.

Performance testing is incredibly important to consider when you are building out a new website, and to continually monitor if you already have a website built.  Load testing is part of your overall performance testing and what is does is ensure that your website can handle expected and unexpected site traffic increases. It works by simulating user activity and monitoring how your infrastructure handles it.  This process helps you determine how much “load” your website can handle before it crashes.  Based on the information you collect from your testing you can determine if you need a more powerful server, optimize database queries, optimize site code, etc.

Once you have determined the big resource consumers, have your website developer and network admin work together to optimize your website.

Consider the Following for More Realistic Load Testing Scenarios:

  • Geographic Location: Performing load testing with the cloud will give you a proper geographical distribution simulation.
  • Devices & Browsers: This one is often a blind-spot. Your website performance may vary drastically across different devices and browsers. Make sure to also monitor and test on various device/browser software.
  • User Behavior: For realistic load testing, you need to ensure that the site interaction represents what path the majority of users will take on your website. You can use Google Analytics to get a good idea of this.
  • Network Behavior: Variations in network latency and bandwidth must be taken into account when performing realistic load testing. Monitor these factors from multiple locations to ensure that they have no real adverse impact on your users.
  • Simultaneous Connections: Modern web browsers send requests using simultaneous connections, so make sure you simulate an appropriate number of parallel requests while you perform these tests.

Here Are Some Tools You Can Try:

  • LOAD Impact – https://loadimpact.com
  • Paessler – https://www.paessler.com/tools/webstress
  • Loader – https://loader.io/
  • Blitz – https://www.blitz.io/
    Load Storm – loadstorm.com/

Solutions for Common Issues:

  1. Compressing files: Images, videos and most files can be compressed to reduce load time and bandwidth usage. Implementing server side compression can increase load on the CPU therefore this must be enabled with care.
  2. Optimizing code and database: Avoid code snippets provided by third parties where you can, these services may cause elements on your page to load slowly. Optimize your database through schema changes and index the most queried columns for best results.
  3. Load balancing: Adding a load balancer(s) is the easiest way to avoid downtime due to refused connections. Load balancers share the traffic with your main server to ensure visitors are never turned away.
  4. Content delivery networks (CDN): If your website depends heavily on images and videos, you may use a content delivery network to reduce the load on the main server and speed up the page load times.
  5. Scalable cloud servers: Auto scaling from services like Amazon and Rackspace may be great if you are never sure about the amount of traffic your website will receive. These are viable and cost effective solutions. You don’t have to pay for what you don’t need and yet be assured that your site can handle any amount of peak traffic.

The research for this article was done by a staff writer for LDA Interactive, a Los Angeles based web design agency.  Contact LDA at info@ldainteractive.com or call (213) 342-1770 for a website consultation from one of our specialists.