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The Importance of Performance Testing for Better User Experience


November 18, 2016

September 11, 2016 will go down in history as the day ESPN’s Fantasy football site became the hottest topic of discussion for all Fantasy Football aficionados. And the unpleasant part is, it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. On that eventful Sunday, as excited fans logged into their accounts to know the scores of their teams, they were in for rude shock. The site was just not working. Some people took to Twitter to vent their frustration saying, “Congratulations to @ESPNFantasy for ruining the greatest day of the year for all of America.”

So what could have gone wrong here?

Forrester Consulting and Akamai reveal that “The most compelling results reveal that two seconds is the new threshold in terms of an average online shopper’s expectation for a web page to load and 40 percent of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site.” Hence, each business must explore ways to keep the website visitors engaged. This helps to convert them into customers by delivering optimal user experience. The user experience of a website is impacted by a number of factors. They are usability, credibility, accessibility, desirability, and search engine visibility.

Credibility: In order to avoid a fate like ESPN Fantasy App, it is always advisable to perform elaborate performance testing to assess the user experience delivered by the web application. This helps to identify the factors that affect its user experience negatively. The testers need to perform a variety of performance testing techniques – load testing, stress testing, soak testing and spike testing – to assess the overall performance of the application and identify the performance bottlenecks. They also use robust tools like JMeter, Load Runner, Web Load, or Open STA to further assess the performance of the software.

Search Engine Visibility: There are also numerous cloud-based performance testing tools doing the rounds in the marketplace. These can be availed to evaluate the performance of an application under varying conditions and based on many parameters within a shorter amount of time. Major search engines like Google have already started ranking websites on their performance and load speed. While conducting performance testing, testers perform specific tests to determine the load time of the web application and identify the factors that make the website load slowly.

Desirability: This makes it clear that performance testing has an impact on the website’s visibility on major search engine result pages (SERPs). It also makes it easier for users to find the web application. As a futuristic step, an enterprise must strive to prevent downtime and crashes to enhance the usability and credibility of the website in the longer run. When the issues affecting the application’s performance is identified during the development process, it becomes easier for developers to repair all these performance issues without putting extra time and effort.

Stability: As a performance testing technique, stress testing enables testing professionals to assess the performance of the application under sustained user load and based on a number of common parameters. Hence, the testers can easily identify the performance bottlenecks and architectural issues that will affect the application’s user experience after deployment. Also, the performance testing results will help the business to enhance the stability of the website by deploying it with adequate memory, bandwidth, and other resources.

Accessibility: The testers can perform spike testing, as a technique of performance testing, to check how the application behaves when the number of users increases suddenly and drastically. They can even take advantage of robust performance testing tools to assess the behavior of the application under varying user loads, and based on important parameters like devices, networks, and memory. Hence, an enterprise can easily deploy additional resources to make the website accessible to a large number of users, while delivering optimal user experience.

Usability: A number of studies have shown that modern users love websites that load faster and respond to their request almost immediately. Hence, the overall performance of a website directly affects its popularity and desirability. When the enterprise performs elaborate performance testing as part of software testing process, it can easily make the website popular within a shorter amount of time after its deployment. Also, the enterprise can deploy the web applications in the most effective way, along with reducing chances of unexpected system failure completely.

On the whole, a business must perform elaborate performance testing of the application before its deployment to enhance its usability, accessibility, credibility and search engine visibility. Also, the consistent and flawless performance of the website will maintain its popularity and desirability over a longer period of time. An enterprise can even consider evaluating the performance of its web application at regular intervals to make it deliver an optimal experience to each user. ESPN’s fantasy app serves as a bright example that brings out the importance of having Performance Testing in the beginning of the SDC.

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