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Load Testing Is an Important Part of the Development

Jan 20, 2012

281 Pavel Novitsky

Load testing is essential for any website. Buyers care about products in your store and they want to be provided with the requested information speedily as well.  Jakob Nielsen mentions three crucial timeline in his article «Response Times: The 3 Important Limits»:

0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.

1.0 second is about the limit for the user’s flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.

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10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user’s attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.

Nielsen has published his research in 1993, however, he took his stand on studies of 60th of the XX century. At that time computers were used mainly for scientific and research purposes – it means that the user had to wait for a website response regardless of how long it would be. In my opinion, at this stage of Internet industry and eCommerce development we should keep in mind 4 seconds (not 10) as the critical threshold for the page loading. It’s absolutely clear what consequences website downtime will have.

You may release brilliant advertising, invest thousands of dollars in website promotion, but what will happen if the store failed to open due to the flood of customers? At minimum – delayed response and tarnished reputation, as maximum – additional customers for your competitors.

Treat Load Testing Seriously

A lot of companies invest resources in design, functionality and interface convenience, often forgetting about load testing of the web server. Saving a small part of the budget, allocated for development, you often lose much more with server failure.  What should you expect when some well-known online service posts a link to your store and 100 000 visitors rush to the store simultaneously?

Do you want to increase revenue? Avoid downtime? Do not forget about load testing then.

Andrey Dubina
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