Making sure that your software infrastructure can handle high user demand is crucial for pre-launch software testing. After all, you need to make sure that your users are having a positive experience with your software. If software performance suffers or your website won’t load its pages under high demand, the user’s experience and their satisfaction with your product will suffer. These load testing strategy tips will help make sure your software testing engineers are getting the best and most relevant data from your pre-launch software testing.
Define Your Minimum Performance Requirements
Before you start load testing your software, make sure that you define your minimum performance requirements. Essentially, this requires deciding at what point your software is no longer performing at an acceptable level. How long does a new page need to take to load to officially become bad UX? Without defining these “acceptable vs. non-acceptable” thresholds, you have nothing to definitively tell you when you’ve hit your software’s maximum load. Defining these minimum performance requirements before testing will make sure you know what limits to look for while performing your load testing.
Measure CPU and RAM Use, Not Just Response Time
Your software load testing strategy should look at the overall intended user experience, not just individual components of that experience. It’s not enough to simply depend on loading time or performance speed to tell you when you’ve hit your maximum load.
Tracking CPU and RAM can help you get a deeper understanding of exactly how much stress your software or website is putting on its system, and help discover memory or other resource leaks. If your software is doesn’t return resources when finished using them, the resource is said to ‘leak’. This is typically most often seen with memory, and if bad enough can create situations in which your site crashes or slows down to an unacceptable level.
Mimic Your Production Environment as Closely as Possible
In an ideal world, your testing environment would have the same resources available to it as your production environment. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to perform your software load testing in the production environment, or to recreate the production environment in your software testing lab exactly. It’s most often inevitable that there will be a disparity in servers, download and upload speed, available computers, and other resources between the two environments, which can cause your software load tests to produce results that aren’t accurate to the actual performance patterns of the production environment.
While there’s only so much your testing engineers can do to fix that, it’s important to actually look into what options you have to mimic the production requirement as closely as possible. For example, don’t use emulators instead of computers or mobile devices if you have actual computers and mobile devices available. Make sure that your load balancing is working evenly and with the same distribution method as the production environment. If your software is running on one OS, don’t test it on another (unless, of course, you’re testing for different versions of the software, in which case just don’t compare results across operating systems). A testing lab is a controlled environment and, because of this, won’t be able to account for every variable that may show up in the production environment, but the closer that production environment can be mimicked, the more accurate your load testing results will be.