The Ultimate Guide to Performance Testing

    By Amy Montague, Friday 24 January 2020

    Problem: How does performance testing improve your websites digital experience?
    Solution: Discussing the definition of performance testing, the types of performance testing and the benefits using real-world examples.
    Read time: 5 minutes

    Want the podcast? Listen to our Ultimate Guide to Performance Testing Podcast here!

    Website testing is an umbrella term for a cluster of different testing practices that all aim to improve the performance of a website or app through methods such as accessibility and usability testing. These practices take into account the user experience on a site via subjective feedback, which is then utilised to improve digital performance. This includes testing the speed and load time of a website, both of which sit under the category of performance testing. Read our Website Testing 2020 guide. 

    What is performance testing?

    Performance testing can be split into two key sectors; in-live performance testing and load testing.

    In-live performance testing records and examines an 'average user journey' at each stage of the buying process, documenting every web page's load time down to the millisecond. These times are then presented in a table format and summarised, highlighting any areas that need improvement.

    Industry fact - Bounce rates increase by a minimum of 50% every second after the 3 second
    loading time mark

    The other type of performance testing is load testing. This type of performance testing is more automated than in-live testing, as a certain number of specific test scripts are run by virtual users (VUs), who perform specific users journeys. The data collected is then collated and measured against a specific server's capabilities. The virtual user group sizes can range from the hundreds to the thousands depending upon the outlined expectations of a certain server. It's important to distinguish this type of testing against stress testing. Stress testing pushes a server until breaking point whereas load testing ensures a server can handle an expected amount of traffic and journeys.  

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    The benefits of performance testing

    Performance testing quality assures a basic level of capability is matched, specifically including the capabilities of your server and load times. Using a group or a community of human testers for your In-Live performance testing process, allows your website to be exposed to real-world instances that triumph over automated testing due to the intuitive and humanistic nature of the test. These testers all have different wifi speeds, devices and browsers available to test on, ensuring larger coverage and shorter testing timelines are achieved as testing can be performed over the weekend and outside of business hours.

    Load testing is particularly useful during expected peak traffic times, such as sale events or during the launch of a new advert, as it ensures your server and site will not crash or produce bugs when traffic and conversions peak. This is highly useful for e-commerce businesses, who have a primarily transactional site that has variable traffic volumes. This is also beneficial for internal development teams, as they won't have to stay awake until the early hours of the morning fixing bugs that have been produced due to a spike in traffic.

    Website performance testing in action

    Working within the testing industry, Digivante has conducted performance testing on hundreds of different sites, working with big-name brands such as Superdry as well as smaller, less well-known companies.

    From Digivante's previous In-Live performance testing experience, issues have occurred when a specific page's site speed was increased due to an unnecessary amount of images being loaded, slowing down the site on both desktop and mobile. This increased mobile bounce rates for this chosen brands website as site speed didn't match customer expectations.

    Another example of In-Live performance testing includes a site which had been loading a survey in the background of a web-page even though the survey was not actually being shown on the live page. This survey unnecessarily slowed down the site speed and thus increased conversions once fixed.

    Performance testing also opens doors for increased site optimisation, identifying areas in which mobile, tablet and desktop website performance can be improved by taking into account the data capabilities for all users, not just those your internal team has access to. This improves the overall digital performance of your site, across a range of device and browser combinations which, in turn, improves conversions and revenue.

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    Amy Montague

    Amy Montague

    As one of the Marketing Executives for Digivante, Amy provides and reviews most of the copy and visual content for Digivante. Amy has a natural flair for the creative and introduces aspect into her marketing role.

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