User experience can be a big component of what makes or breaks a website. Slow loading times, poor design and hard-to-navigate websites are about three clicks away from an online consumer giving up and switching to another website, according to Tom Lounibos, SOASTA’s CEO.
Web applications are made up of multiple components, and it is impossible to account for components in only a staging environment, which is why SOASTA recommended continuous testing—testing in all environments from development to production.
“In the past, the best practices have always been to test at the end of development, before you launch,” said Lounibos. “But if something breaks, and it always seems to break, then you don’t really have more time to do testing or come up with solutions.”
In order to achieve the best user experience and make sure all aspects of an application work together, SOASTA has provided these 10 essential performance tips:
1. Bandwidth—Make sure everyone can get in: One of the most common issues that impact load testing is bandwidth, and it’s difficult to test at full scale. It’s important to pay attention to the use of unnecessarily large high-resolution files because these can be pointless bandwidth hogs that disrupt user experience. Slow connections and varying wireless conditions also extend to mobile devices. To account for this variability, mobile and desktop applications need to be designed and performance-tested differently. It is critical to understand your customers and how they are accessing your site. Your testing plans must accommodate for mobile traffic and impact.
2. Load Balancing—Make sure everyone pulls their weight: SOASTA has found that in a majority of instances, load-balancing problems emerge as a consistent barrier to proper performance. It is important to track and monitor your load balancers, specifically looking at CPU, SSL transactions and memory consumption.
3. Watch for application issues: Test everything in your app for inefficient code, synchronization issues, code locking or blocking, and application deadlocks. Configuring apps is critical to improving them. Be careful of page errors or response codes that indicate missing resources or incorrect domains when migrating from development to production.
4. Measure database performance: As your application grows more complex and you start to store user information, your database is bound to slow down if you haven’t optimized for your changing environment. Monitor and review your SQL queries and statements, memory usage, and connections regularly.
5. Assess your architecture: Poor application performance can come from unbalanced tiers, scalability limitations, suboptimal designs, mismatched technology choices and inefficient network configurations. These issues can be brought to surface before they affect user experience with proper testing in place.
6. Ensure proper connectivity: Connectivity is an essential factor in application performance. A clear understanding of what happens to applications when you revise, update or change connection types is important. Provide redundancy for critical systems, which requires testing as well.
7. Don’t overlook configuration settings: It is easy to overlook configuration settings, but it is important not to settle for out-of-the-box defaults. With the right configurations, performance is improved and security is strengthened.
8.Watch out for shared environments: Be aware of all shared environments that impact application performance. Communicate with stakeholders, and be conscious of internal partners who share the same technical resources.
9. Verify third-party services: While third-party providers sit outside application architecture, it is crucial to include them in test plans because they directly impact performance.
10. Create a performance culture: If your organization lacks performance-centric culture, all the testing in the world won’t make a difference to your application. Better to plan, develop and release a high-performing Web application by emphasizing the importance of performance in all areas of your company.