Large traffic spikes can occur when you launch a new product or feature, run a successful marketing campaign, or get featured on a prominent site. Sometimes traffic spikes happen randomly for no apparent reason at all.
If your site handles the traffic gracefully and delivers a good experience to all those users, the flood of traffic can be a smashing success. On the other hand, if your site fails to perform well, it can be an embarrassing failure.
High traffic events raise the stakes for your business. They present a unique opportunity, but they also carry risk.
So, is there a way to reduce the potential downside risk of a high traffic event?
Load testing is a way to do exactly this! By simulating heavy traffic ahead of time, you can prepare for it, and so you can know in advance (with a pretty high degree of certainty, anyway) how your site will respond to a flood of real users.
Load and stress testing can help you answer questions like these:
Unlike functional testing, which can be accomplished by a single user, load testing requires the right tools to simulate hundreds or thousands of concurrent users interacting with your application in a realistic way.
Load testing techniques can be useful even if you don’t have specific performance or scalability requirements.
Especially in the early stages of a project, it can be incredibly useful to run some exploratory load tests to see what bottlenecks are encountered. Running load tests in rapid succession, while making changes to the software, is a great way to find obvious and not-so-obvious performance problems.
You can use load tests to investigate several different dimensions of a system’s performance:
In most cases, you’d want to explore each of these dimensions independently, by running repeated tests with different configurations. Before starting load testing, you should plan out your goals and pass/fail criteria to guide your efforts.
Are you load testing with a purpose? Read on for some ways to run a successful load test.