Why You Should Be Load Testing Your Application

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No matter your industry, application complexity, or user base size, your application must be able to handle any level of traffic and use it gets (and ideally more, in the event that your super-sweet new features draw new users like moths to a porch light).

How do you make sure you’re prepared? Load testing.

What is load testing?

In a nutshell, load testing means pushing your application to its limits and seeing how its performance under that pressure compares to its normal performance.

Load testing often involves having lots of users (or simulated users) access your application or site at the same time, send complex requests, throw lots of data at your system, and do whatever else they can to overload it.

What types of issues can load testing reveal?

Let’s say you’re hosting a conference and your site has a registration form that attendees need to complete to secure their spot. Marketing has been on point, and the day registration opens has arrived. But as soon as you make the registration form available to everyone, your site is slammed with tons and tons of traffic. Clearly there’s a huge amount of interest in the conference… too bad your site crashed and no one can register.

A feature that works seamlessly when one person is using it may go haywire when 10, 100, or 1,000 people try using it simultaneously. Problems can arise from servers that are too small to handle the traffic, databases that can’t hold and process all of the data being passed back and forth quickly enough, and any number of other infrastructure issues.

If your site can’t handle the load thrown at it, it may slow down, time out, have trouble processing requests, and even crash.

The goal with load testing is up the ante enough before go live so you can identify these breaking points and take the necessary steps to remedy them before they become a problem in production.

Why is load testing so important?

The world is a big place, and even if your application is brand new and you’re still trying to grow your user base, chances are more than one person will try to use it at any given time. If you’re not able to handle those users and that traffic, your company and application isn’t able to put your best foot forward. Spotty behavior and flaky availability can give people the impression that your application isn’t polished and professional enough to meet their needs, potentially causing them to look for a solution elsewhere.

Through load testing, and making improvements and changes based on the results of that load testing, you can be better prepared for your users and give them the best possible experience.

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