The e-commerce industry’s busiest day is just around the corner… Are you ready?
Everyone knows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular online shopping days of the year (besides Amazon’s Prime Day), but it’s also a day that is notorious for website crashes as the dramatic increase in users to any one site can cause major performance related problems.
The good news is that these problems could be prevented and solved by doing performance tests on time and having the proper set of monitoring tools to know the status of your system’s health while processing the peaks loads.
A dedicated performance tester, I work with clients and partners daily to help them avoid crashes and system slowness, so they can generate more revenue and ensure a pleasant user experience. Below, I will list my favorite tools for performance testing and monitoring that you can use to help you gear up for the busiest time of the year!
HTTP Debugging Proxies
Debugging proxies are really useful to analyze the traffic between the user’s pc and the server. They are trusted middlemen programs that work by catching and decrypting all the requests and responses between the client and the server, taking metrics like processing and response times, packet size and more.
These tools are also really helpful for performance scripting as they could be used as a reference to parameterize variables or take values from request responses.
The ones we use most at Abstracta are:
- Fiddler: (Although it is primarily for Windows, Fiddler has beta versions for Linux and MacOS but they don’t work quite as well as the Windows version.)
- Charles Proxy
Load Testing Tools
As you may already know, load testing tools are the main tools for performance testing. They can record workflows, automate them (usually by creating scripts that simulate a real user performing actions in the application) and execute these scripts, recreating any possible scenario from your system.
There are many load testing tools (licensed or free) and choosing the correct one depends on many aspects like the technologies used in the system, the experience of the testers or the size of the load tests. We recommend:
- Gatling (The tester may require some programming knowledge as the scripts are written in Scala)
- BlazeMeter – A SaaS tool especially recommended to run high volume load tests, it can also run both JMeter and Gatling scripts.
Application performance management tools are programs (mostly SaaS but also on-premise) for monitoring and managing the performance, availability and user experience of software applications. They’re useful to monitor the health of a system everyday, and especially on days with higher shopping demand (like Black Friday), detecting and diagnosing performance related problems without adding significant overhead to resource consumption. In addition, they could be used to record metrics of the system during the performance tests.
Today there is a plethora of great options. The ones Abstracta uses most include:
- New Relic
- CloudWatch for AWS servers
Server logs provide very interesting information about a system, but they are usually difficult to understand. Log analyzer tools are very useful to automatically process and parse different types of logs. In particular, they generate graphics and tables to show the information provided and some even use algorithms to automatically detect problems.
Some of these tools are:
Mobile App Performance Tuning
Your website may not be your only source of revenue on Black Friday; perhaps you have a mobile app as well. Just like your website, your app should have excellent performance in order for customers to trust it and open it back up time and time again.
The findings of a 2015 mobile app user survey conducted by Dimensional Research showed that 80% of app users will only attempt to use a problematic app three times or less and 36% said that an app with slow performance issues made them have a lower opinion of the company.
The best tool we can recommend for mobile performance testing and tuning is Apptim. Apptim empowers you to easily test and analyze mobile app performance, preventing any issues from going live to your users. It provides you with rich data regarding response times and resource consumption (cpu, memory, data transfer, render, database, etc) and more.
I hope that provides you with a good introduction of the various kinds of tools that can be used to ensure the reliability and performance of your website and/or mobile app for Black Friday! With a well thought out plan and the right tools and tests this could be you this holiday season:
Have you tried any other tools that you would recommend? Let me know!
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