Understand the Basics and Best Practices of Performance Testing

Today we expect software and mobile apps to do anything and everything. Several research reports have substantiated the fact that slow page load could lead to customer fallout and a lot of lost dollars in revenue. For instance, a 1 second lag in the page load time could lead to 7 percent less conversions. That’s a significant number that cannot be ignored!

Performance testing is an important part of the software development lifecycle. It includes a range of software tests including load, stress and soak test among others. The test effort’s main purpose is to identify the performance of the system under a specific load. In short, it generates diagnostic information to identify and rectify bottlenecks within the system.

Why performance testing should be done at an early stage?

It is imperative to get performance testing done in the early stages of the system or application development cycle. This allows testing the basic tech stack at an early stage including application server performance, load balancing, network performance, web server performance and database performance among others. All these parameters should be tested at the expected load.

It helps in reducing cost escalation risks as identifying and fixing the performance issues during implementation or production stage might cost exponentially. Load testing could be executed immediately after the web pages start functioning although traditionally it has been believed that it would be better to take it on after one round of functional testing.

Must Visit: Getting Deeper Into Performance Testing By Leveraging APIs

Advantages of Performance Testing:

Performance testing helps to –

  • Assess the amenability of the system to growth
  • Identify weak points in the architecture
  • Detect bugs in the software that could not have been identified otherwise
  • Tune up the system
  • Verify resilience and reliability of the system

Performance Testing Stages

Performance testing goes through 7 basic stages to analyse key metrics of the application.

#1 Identify the Test Environment

The test environment is created as per the requirement of the application. It is a setup of the software, hardware and network to efficiently support the execution of the test. The right set up of the test environment is essential to identify and fix issues that could pop up during production.

#2 Key Performance Metrics

Some of the key performance metrics which should be included in the tests are wait time, response time, peak response time, load time, throughput, concurrent users, request per user, error rate, memory utilization and CPU utilization among others.

#3 Test Plan

The test plan finalizes the approach, schedule, scope and resources required for the planned test. Aside, it also ensures other essential test items, a list of features to be tested, testing tasks, assigned people to conduct the test effort, , test design techniques and the test environment among others.

#4 Test Environment Configuration

Developing an expected environment to conduct testing activities helps in getting accurate performance data of the systems and application.

#5 Data Capturing

Preparation of test data consumes a lot of time. However, it is essential to analyse the data in the form of detailed reports. Raw measured data can be captured in CSV files and later imported into spreadsheets or custom graphs

#6 Analysis and report generation:

Data captured through all the steps is analyzed minutely and shared with the team to identify performance issues and take corrective measures based on the report.

#7 Retesting

The test is again performed on the same parameters to test if the rectification work is sufficient or needs fine-tuning. Once this is found to be okay testing is carried out using different parameters and rectification, if needed, conducted.

What is good performance testing?

The performance of the software or application depends largely on the purpose for which it is being built. For instance, an internal content management system can be used within the organization with a few seconds lag however, you can’t afford the same amount of lag in a customer facing website. When it comes to apps being offered to customers, stability and speed are two key metrics which decides the customer desirability of your app. Customers will instantly uninstall a poor performing app.

Hence, it is essential to identify the ‘acceptable performance’ for a particular application before starting performance testing. Considering the level of performance at the early stages of product development helps in setting the right expectations during the testing state of application.

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Right Scripting

The right scripting is essential to ensure human emulation of interaction and behaviour with the application. Scripting ensures in humanizing the bots during performance testing to simulate different features of the application in a humane manner.

However, scripting is not required in all the performance tests. For instance, to find out what is happening on the server-side; you need to monitor the environment, export and compare the results.

Appropriate Testing Tools

Apart from licensed tools for scripting there are also several open source tools including Apache JMeter. These tools can be used for load testing for both dynamic and static resources. From simulation of how many concurrent users you want, to the communication protocol your application is using; you need to analyse different tools to identify which one meets your requirements perfectly.

Aside, you can also leverage tools to monitor and analyse different aspects of the performance of server including memory usage and operating system consumption among others. But these tools come at a cost and would charge the number of servers and throughput.

Evaluate the cost-benefits of performance testing

Performance testing is beneficial in several ways however, it is recommended to evaluate the cost-efficiency and feasibility of conducting it. You need to strike a balance between the cost of performance testing and measures to improve it. And you need to compare it with the gravity of business benefits.

Performance testing is also crucial to measure and improve response time. It is essential to identify and fix bottlenecks if the app is running on a shared architecture. Also, performance of server should be analysed if the app is running on shared components or infrastructure.

Last but not the least, test performance of usability of the application. For instance, if it is an eCommerce website then think about possible use case scenarios to test accordingly. Test the application for sudden escalation in the user load to identify it performs as expected during the peak load capacity days.

QA InfoTech offers leading edge Performance Testing services. Our team of highly experienced test engineers can help your application achieve optimum performance levels. Ping us and we can help you with more details.

About the Author

QA InfoTech

QA InfoTech

Established in 2003, with less than five testing experts, QA InfoTech has grown leaps and bounds with three QA Centers of Excellence globally; two of which are located in the hub of IT activity in India, Noida, and the other, our affiliate QA InfoTech Inc Michigan USA. In 2010 and 2011, QA InfoTech has been ranked in the top 100 places to work for in India.

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