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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Website Load Testing: Why, When and How

8 November 2019 by Charlotte Nuttall

website load testingWebsite load testing is the process of simulating traffic influxes to your site and measuring its performance. Compared with other forms of website assessments such as usability testing, load testing is a simple process. It assesses your site scripts – often static content – rather than entire user journeys or more dynamic functions.

Why load test your site?

There are many advantages to website load testing. Here are five examples:

  1. Identify your site’s maximum capacity. Increase traffic to your site until it breaks to determine your site’s limits. If your predictions for peak time user traffic exceed your current maximum capacity of site users, you can optimise your site ahead of time and ensure it can handle even your busiest periods.
  2. Stop your site from crashing at critical times. A flood of visitors to your site can be hugely advantageous. Or hugely damaging, depending on how your site handles it. Rather than let your users crash your site during a critical period, let your load test determine the number of users it can process. Then prepare or improve your site accordingly.
  3. Expose bugs and issues. This is known as stability or soak testing and targets issues which occur as a result of high traffic or extended usage. If your site has never had to deal with high traffic before, you have no indication of how your site copes when your infrastructure is under stress. Website load testing means you can identify and fix issues before your users encounter them.
  4. Improve site performance, scalability and speed. Your users want a quick, simple journey through your site from start to finish. Baseline performance testing allows you to determine your site’s ability to deliver the desired experience in normal conditions. To determine its capabilities under sudden increases of traffic, spike testing is used. In each case, you’re able to proactively optimise your site as a result.
  5. Reduce reputational and financial risk. Ultimately, website load testing helps you reduce the risk of incurring reputational or financial damage. This can be due to dissatisfied customers and lost sales, for example.

When to load test

You’ve decided a load test is a good idea, but is now a good time? The truth is you can load test whenever necessary. But there are some occasions when load testing is highly recommended.

  • When making changes. Your website is a constantly evolving entity. As such, making changes to your code or your server configuration is standard practice. Exploratory load testing is handy to assess whether these changes impact your performance negatively or positively. Or to compare them if you’re carrying out some AB testing. With many load test tools these results are instantly available too, making the process both quick and straightforward.
  • Before launching a campaign. Marketing campaigns which are going to drive increased traffic to your site are a recipe for success given your site is ready. Ensuring it’s prepared to perform at its best in this situation means you won’t miss out on the extra customers wanting to click that all-important ‘buy now’ button.
  • Ahead of your busy periods. It’s important to stress that peak periods are for every single site – not just those in the eCommerce world. News sites, academic results sites, streaming websites and blogs; every single site out there will have its own pattern of user traffic. Ensuring your website is ready for its own peak periods is paramount to success. Again, testing ahead of time ensures you won’t miss out on valuable conversions at critical moments.

Website load testing tools

For your business and your website, it really is a case of researching and exploring which tools suit you best.

Research quickly reveals a huge variation in price across the board. Plus, some of the high-end companies offer more advanced services such as the ability to automate with your CI/CD pipeline, and the promise of AI-driven testing – which are reflected in the cost.

So, if you would like to know how your site performs under certain traffic conditions, and be able to test your site as many times as you want, UKFast’s unlimited load testing package offers exactly what you need at an affordable price.

UKFast’s handy tool provides three types of test – Incline, Smash and Step-Up – to assess the performance of your site. And your results are available instantly through the self-managed MyUKFast Portal, so you can manage all your domains and test them to your heart’s content. Plus, with our award-winning tech support available 24/7/365, you’re only ever a phone call away from an expert opinion if you need help optimising your site.

If this is the load testing tool you’re after, give the UKFast team a call now on 0800 231 5917 to find out more or request a call back.

Create a free MyUKFast account and start your free trial of UKFast’s load testing tool now.