Performance testing is one of the most challenging components of web application testing. Irrelevant web performance test data or wrong metrics, chosen during testing, cost companies a ton of money and effort.
If done right, performance testing has all the tools needed to forecast product behavior and its response to user’s actions with an impressive amount of detail and precision.
In this post, you will get to know the plethora of performance testing types, find out what the best practices in the field are, and will be able to make an informed choice whether to hire testing specialists or run testing sessions on your own.
Performance testing encompasses a wide range of metrics and characteristics — QA professionals assess response time, resource utilization, system throughput, and so on. Grouping testing activities into types by nature helps project teams ensure they don’t skip a single crucial testing aspect. Below are the main types of web application performance testing:
Developers do performance testing for web application projects to assess the overall speed, stability, and scalability of the project. Project teams implement performance testing to ensure the final build meets the expectations of an end user and helps a business achieve its objectives.
As a result of a testing session, companies might end up with a list of mismatches between expected and actual performance. Having a deeper insight into the weaker point of an app helps during fine-tuning and brings more substance to the decision-making process.
To conduct load testing, a team needs to estimate the user load an online application will be subjected to once released. Then, an estimated load is simulated to test the system response.
Through load testing, business managers can pinpoint and fix concurrency issues, ensure they have enough server power and bandwidth to support an estimated load. This type of testing is a must-have for scalability planning.
Stress testing helps teams define issues that only become visible under peak load conditions. During this type of system validation, QA specialists simulate loads that exceed reasonable estimates to test the performance of web application.
Product owners should keep in mind that product may crash and this is a normal situation — yet, it’s crucial to ensure that no data is lost during the shutdown and no security exploits are out in the open.
Stress testing prepares the maintenance team for extreme situations and helps establish triggers of system shutdown for proactive management.
Capacity testing lays the groundwork of successful capacity planning — it helps determine how many concurrent operations the system is capable of handling. As a result of such testing, developers will know how to react once the amount of data, processed by a system, as well as the user load increases. Thanks to capacity testing, system admins will know what server capacity, bandwidth, etc. are needed for high-quality, error-free product performance.
Any kind of web performance testing can be handled as component testing. It’s an approach that aims at the system’s architectural components. Networks, servers, databases, storage devices, firewalls are all examples of these components.
A smoke test is the first run through a developed application that helps determine its weakest points and most pressing issues. Smoke tests are usually performed under normal production conditions, with an estimated user load and data volume.
Unit testing refers to validating the smallest subsets of a system — functions, classes, methods, objects, and so on. Running unit tests doesn’t require a separate testing team — typically, they are performed directly by developers who write the code. Unit testing is a way to smoothly incorporate the validation of system performance into the development cycle.
To determine the root-cause of the problem, a team needs to run investigations — gather performance-related data. All the insights, collected during the investigation, help testers back up or disprove a hypothesis regarding a cause or a solution to a performance issue.
Validation tests determine if a system matches a set of business requirements and expectations. Developers usually validate the following characteristics of the project:
Performance testing is a way for companies to be proactive, detecting and neutralizing potential risks before bringing the product to the market.
Failing to validate the system properly usually results in high opportunity cost, reputation losses, low conversion, and user satisfaction rates.
Namely, project teams conduct performance testing for the following reasons:
Web app performance testing is so diverse and dependent on a set of objectives set by each business manager that developing a single, unified guide that fits web-application testing across all domains is nearly impossible.
Nevertheless, there are common activities and approaches all successful performance tests share. Here’s the list of critical tasks that provide developers, testers, and business managers with the full view of the system.
Before writing and running tests, a team needs to create a secure, fully functional environment that would simulate a real-life condition as precisely as possible. Usually, testing environments include:
Taking time to establish a functional test environment improves the quality of planning and running tests.
First-tier performance criteria that are assessed for all web apps are the response time, throughput, and resource utilization. Depending on business requirements, additional metrics might be measured and captured.
Thorough research is a cornerstone of an intelligent test plan. A testing team needs to gather the most likely scenarios and ways for users to interact with the system. After testers have collected a range of cases, they need to come up with ways to simulate needed interactions. QA specialists also define metrics that will be captured during the testing.
At this stage, a QA team creates a toolkit of load-generation and performance-monitoring tools. Also, testers create a bank of IP addresses to use during sessions. As project testing moves along, it’s a common practice to modify or expand the web server performance testing toolkit to provide a broader view of the web application’s performance.
The success of test execution heavily depends on the way your team has handled all the previous steps. Other than that, here are the practices to follow as you execute performance tests:
Keep in mind that the outcome of performance testing may have answered the developer’s questions regarding the system’s behavior. Stakeholders, on the other hand, will not be satisfied with a full technical report. What they need is an explanation of how the testing outcome translates into business needs.
When sharing test results, offer a condensed range of insights to the team, as well as the raw data to back up the credibility of conclusions a team has reached. If a full test report results in large data volumes, don’t rush to cut it. When attempting data reduction, ensure no valuable insights are lost.
Finally, the results of performance testing are never set in stone. As soon as the code changes, there’s a likelihood response time and other metrics will be affected. That’s why re-iteration is a core part of a successful performance testing strategy. Create a detailed schedule with the re-runs to not forget about re-validating the system.
As there’s a variety of testing activities, QA specialists need a broad toolkit for web-application performance testing. From a wide range of tools for this post, we’ve selected five web performance test tools.
Apache Bench is a simple tool for server-load testing. Testers can run the software from the command line. Apache Bench is a fit for beginner QAs — the only prerequisites for using the system are the command-line interface knowledge, the basic understanding of web servers, as well as a good command of HTTP.
JMeter is among powerful load and stress performance testing tools for web applications. It helps testers simulate heavy traffic loads and test the strength of a network or a server. JMeter has a wide range of supported protocols — Web, FTP, LDAP, TCP, Database (JDBC), and many more. There’s a fully functional IDE to give testers as much control over executing and monitoring load tests as possible.
Gatling is a framework that covers load and performance testing. It is an open-source tool, with a straightforward interface and a range of features that are fully geared towards web applications.
The range of protocols supported by Gatling includes HTTP, Server-sent events, WebSockets, JMS, AMQP, MQTT, and ZeroMQ. Along with HTML-rich reporting and a built-in DSL, Gatling provides testers with a wide range of plugins — testers can extend the tool’s functionality in a way that benefits the testing framework.
BlazeMeter is a load testing platform that spans websites, web applications, and software. A tool is equipped with a range of plugins — there’s a Jenkins CI module, a dedicated Drupal module, and an integration with JMeter.
BlazeMeter is one of the most functional load testing tools that took the entire process to the cloud.
Loadrunner is an application testing tool that helps analyze system behavior and adds to the efficiency of load testing. It allows QA professionals to run automated tests as they can store all simulated interactions as scripts and use them for future testing.
Loadrunner-simulated activities include keypresses or mouse clicks. The tool supports application, database, network, and server testing. Internetworking, email protocols, as well as remote client technologies, are supported.
Performance testing offers business managers a pool of insights, provides data for efficient decision-making and minimizes the number of risks the team may encounter after the product release. Skipping crucial steps or stages of the process, on the other hand, can mislead stakeholders and greatly overestimate the performance of the product.
For a performance testing service, be sure to hire a skilled and experienced team. Performance Lab has certified testers on board that have handled projects with multi-layered infrastructures across challenging domains — finance and banking, healthcare, etc. Take a look at our portfolio to see the living proof of our team’s expertise. To get a skilled team of testers to work on your project, contact us!