Peak web traffic events are an important business opportunity for organizations. However, to maximize the benefits of these occasions, they need to ensure the high volumes of site visitors and traffic spikes don’t crash or slow down their websites and applications. This is essential for ensuring a good user experience. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of all the resources you will need for handling peak web traffic events, from start to finish.

Whether you’re getting started or have many years of load testing experience under your belt, consider this your guide to handling peak web traffic events.

Read along or jump to the section that interests you the most:

Why You Should Test Before Peak Events

The cornerstone of a sound strategy for handling peak web events is proper load testing, so let’s get back to the basics and understand why load testing is important. Load testing simulates real scenarios and lets you see how your system will perform under high volumes of visitors. By load testing before peak events, you can fix bugs and bottlenecks before they happen, and avoid upsetting users and customer churn.

Performance Testing Types

When building your load testing and performance testing plan, it’s important to take into account the different types of load tests at your disposal. Let’s look at performance testing vs load testing vs stress testing, as well as soak testing and spike testing.

  • Performance testing - An umbrella term for all performance-related types of tests. This includes load tests, stress tests, spike tests, and more (see below). Performance tests validate the responsiveness, stability, scalability, reliability, speed, and resource usage of your software and infrastructure.
  • Load testing - Testing system behavior under an anticipated load of users who are performing transactions over a certain period of time. The goal is to ensure the system can perform under varying loads.
  • Stress testing -  A type of performance/load test that checks the upper limits of the system by testing it under extreme loads. The goal is to identify the breaking point so engineering teams can fix any issues.
  • Soak testing - A long-running performance/load test that examines how the application performs under an intensively growing number of users, for an extended period of time. You might have heard the terms “endurance testing”, “capacity testing”, or “longevity testing”, which mean the same thing.
  • Spike testing - A stress test in which the number of requests is increased very quickly, decreased and then continues to run. 

Performance Testing Practices, Tips and Tools

It’s always handy to have a few load testing best practices and performance testing tips up your sleeve. Some key tips include:

  • Test early and often - Build your testing plan for peak events and run it as early as possible in the year. This plan should complement ongoing, continuous testing of your systems throughout the year.
  • Determine your KPIs - Ensure you know what you are testing, the desired results, and what constitutes a bottleneck that needs to be fixed.
  • Run tests in Production - Get reliable results by testing the application your users are experiencing. Choose a time when traffic is low and let your users know in advance there might be some downtime.
  • Scale your tests - Start small and slowly increase the number of concurrent users in performance testing until you reach a breaking point.
  • Set up the proper infrastructure for testing - You can run tests in the cloud or perform distributed testing on JMeter.

Black Friday Testing

One of the most important peak events of the year is Black Friday. To get ready, retailers across the US spend months preparing their websites and applications for the highest volumes of traffic of the year.

To gain deeper insights into load testing Black Friday trends, we surveyed a group of users about their online and mobile shopping experience. Some top insights include:

  • 34% of customers find slow loading time to be the most frustrating online experience.
  • 86% of customers believe a site should never crash. If it does crash, the issue needs to be resolved in minutes.
  • 28% of shoppers will abandon the shopping journey after two site crashes.
  • 78% of customers are likely to take their business elsewhere if a mobile app crashes or is too slow.
  • 59% of customers value a secure checkout.

No wonder a sound testing strategy ensures you are ready for Black Friday.

How Other Brands Succeeded Preparing for Peak Web Traffic Events

It’s always helpful to learn from other members of the testing community about what worked for them and how they ensured performance during peak events. You can click on any of the links to read more.