With Cyber Monday, the online shopping day that falls the Monday after Thanksgiving, a week away, online retailers are gearing up for an onslaught of Web traffic.
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To help ensure businesses are ready for the rush of shoppers, cloud testing firm SOASTA offers 10 tips for better online performance. Their advice includes:
- Bandwidth: While businesses may have carefully planned for the bandwidth their website will need to generally sustain and maintain a proper user experience, it is important to know what happens when there is a surge in traffic. One key area to pay attention to: the use of unnecessarily large high-res files. For instance, one large "beauty shot" of a popular retail item can be a pointless bandwidth hog that disrupts the desired user experience, while a jittery video can turn off would-be buyers. One strategy to account for this variability is for businesses to design their mobile and desktop apps differently.
- Load balancing: Load balancing issues, which are when processing and communications activity aren't distributed evenly across a network, emerge as a consistent impediment to proper performance. At a minimum, businesses must make sure they monitor and track their load balancers, looking specifically at CPU and memory consumption, as well as SSL transactions.
- Watch for application issues: There’s no such thing as perfect code. And that means that everything in an app should be tested to find inefficient code, synchronization issues, garbage collection memory leaks or code that's locking or blocking other functions, such as an e-commerce ordering system that can only process one order at the time. Configuring the application is a critical piece of improving the performance of a website. This problem often manifests itself through page errors or response codes indicating missing resources or incorrect domains. Be vigilant in searching for these errors when moving the application from development to production.
- Measure database performance: When websites grow more complex and as they begin to store more information about users, their database will slow down if they haven't been optimized properly. For instance, make sure to generate and refresh indexes for all tables. Regularly review SQL queries, the code used to communicate with databases, and statements to ensure optimum efficiency and monitor the memory usage as well as the connections into and out of the database. Finally, beware of the unrestricted, unmanaged growth of data in the databases. Many companies are finding it advantageous to implement careful data lifecycle programs that balance the need to archive less-frequently used data with the need for optimal responsiveness for more current data.
- Assess architecture: It's essential to factor in architectural considerations. Unbalanced tiers, mismatched technology choices, scalability limitations, suboptimal designs and inefficient network configurations can all ultimately manifest themselves in poor application performance. With proper testing in place, businesses can bring these issues to the surface before they impact the user experience.
- Ensure proper connectivity: Connectivity is a crucial factor in Web application performance. Businesses need to know how many connection points their website currently has and if they are planning to revise or update them. If alterations are coming, businesses want to have a clear understanding of what happens to those applications when they make connection point updates. For instance, there could be latency issues between various systems, as well as firewall capacity or DNS routing issues. It's best practice to provide redundancy or failover for critical systems.
- Don't overlook configuration settings: Configuration settings may be easy to overlook, but it's essential that not to settle for out-of-the-box defaults. The right configurations help improve performance and strengthen security. Make sure to tune all environments, from lab to staging to production, and apply those settings on a consistent basis.
- Watch out for shared environments: With many major sites employing complex architectures, it is important to be fully aware of all of the shared environments that can impact performance. It's critical to not only communicate with stakeholders, but also be cognizant of internal partners who share the same technical resources.
- Verify third-party services: Many websites rely on third-party providers that connect to the site to provide additional data and crucial services, such as Google Analytics, credit card processing or social-media widgets. These third-party services sit outside the architecture, but businesses must include them in their test plans, since they have a direct impact on Web application performance.
- Create a performance culture: All of the proper testing the world won't make a difference if your organization lacks a performance-centric culture. By emphasizing the importance of performance in all areas of the company, businesses can better plan, develop and release a high-performing Web application.
The advice is part of SOASTA's recently released white paper, "The Top 10 Tips to Improve Web Application Performance."
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.
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