Don’t Test Your Luck: The Risks of Not Load Testing

There are some companies who still haven’t considered load testing their website or mobile application. Maybe it’s because they don’t get a lot of traffic to their site or maybe their mobile app has just been released and only has a small number of users.

If you have been getting by not load testing your website, you’ve been very lucky. But how long can that lucky streak really last?

There’s a reason why you get car insurance before you crash your car, or why gamblers in Vegas leave while they’re up because eventually their luck runs out. Same applies to your website or mobile application. If you are aiming to be successful in business, there will come a point in time where you wish you would have load tested.

Companies Who Weren’t So Lucky

The tipping point can be defined as, “The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once.” Many companies have experienced the tipping point at some point, and most of them were not prepared to take on the mass market.

SodaStream’s Super Bowl Ad

SodaStream had been an established brand in the UK, but in 2012 was looking to enter foreign markets and had their eyes set on the U.S. The home carbonation product was a new concept and a new market in the U.S, directly competing with the two giants in the soda making industry.

To gain some traction in a foreign market, SodaStream took out their first big game advertisement in 2012. The 30 second ad, the original version was banned by the NFL, caused enough hype about the product to crash their website. That was their tipping point.

We can assume SodaStream underestimated the power of mainstream advertising, and most likely load tested their website improperly or not at all.

Moral of the story: if you are running a big game advertisement for your company be prepared for some serious load on your servers.

Buycott Mobile App Crash

Buycott was in a situation most companies would think is great, their app went viral. Mainly due to a lot of press coverage, which is what you want. The app reached No. 10 on Google Play store and requests for download hit 100 per minute. But it turned out to be a beautiful nightmare for the brand who after hitting their tipping point had to pull the app off the market because it was not capable of dealing with the high traffic volume.

Ivan Pardos, the app’s developer, explained on the company’s FB page that they were working 24/7 moving to a server configuration to deal with the traffic. That sounds like a very expensive problem to us.

Moral of the story: You cannot predict if your mobile app will go viral, however, if that’s your main goal then you better be prepared with adequate server and application infrastructure, effective monitoring, and a plan to increase capacity to handle the increased load in an instant.

When You Should Consider Load Testing

If you haven’t been load testing your website or mobile application, here’s a list of the major red flags you might see that could potentially cause your website or application to crash, leaving you in a very expensive and time consuming situation.

  1. When you see your customer base growing
    The question really becomes, how fast your customer base actually grows. In the Buycott app situation, you can’t really predict when your app will go viral, if it ever does. But if you see a steady incline in customers either accessing your website or mobile app, you should either hire a performance tester in-house or start looking for load testing services quickly.
  2. When you take out mainstream advertisements
    Hitting the mainstream market is huge, just look at the SodaStream example. If your marketing or advertising team is going to take out an infomercial, ad space on TV or even in a magazine, make sure to have your application and infrastructure load tested properly.
  3. When your website or app starts to slow down
    This is kind of a big one. If you see your website or your app load time slow down, your servers are probably under a bit of pressure. Get that checked out immediately before disaster strikes. Even if your app never crashes, slow app performance can do permanent damage to a company’s brand and have your users seeking a better experience from a competitor.
  4. When your operations team is working overtime to keep the website running
    If your operations team is already adding servers or changing configurations to try to handle the load, it could be a sign that there is something wrong with your application code. Until you fix what is wrong with your code, you won’t be able to scale properly and it gets pretty expensive continuously adding more servers.

Load Testing is Your Insurance

If you can identify with any of the four points we have outlined above, consider having your website or app load tested right away. If you are still on the fence about load testing consider it your insurance, do it before something really bad (or good, like going viral) happens.

No Responses
  1. April 7, 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *