How Do You Perform a Performance Test?

A key ingredient in designing, maintaining and executing an optimized software, program, or website is performance testing. Performance testing is a series of methods and processes that allow you to assess how your product performs across several areas in varying circumstances.

Performance testing helps identify strengths and weaknesses as well as potential future issues and helps you develop a comprehensive understanding of what your platform can truly accomplish. In this blog, we are going to break down how to conduct a performance test, what performance testing is, and why it matters, and mix in a performance test example or two!

What Is Performance Testing and Why Is It Done?

Performance testing refers to different evaluations, simulations, and experiments conducted on a software, application, or website, to understand the capabilities and limitations of it. Depending on the type of test you run, performance testing can reveal how your product operates under ideal and suboptimal conditions, varying workloads, variable durations of time usage, and more. 

The goal behind performance testing is to identify how your program or website will behave in an ideal environment, but also to monitor its response in any set of circumstances including strenuous or adverse ones. In conducting performance tests, it is often beneficial to even push your application to the point of failure to pinpoint its true limitations. In doing all of this, performance testing helps inform you on: 

  • Current strengths of your program such as response time 
  • Current weaknesses, such as bugs, limitations, bottlenecks, etc.
  • Potential future strengths such as the ability to scale up to higher workloads
  • Potential future issues like starting to fail at a certain number of users
  • and more!

All of this data and information is incredibly valuable. Whether you are launching a new application, monitor a program after it launches, or just conducting routine website maintenance, the insights you gain from performance testing inform decisions across the board from engineer to strategic planning. 

What Are The Types of Performance Testing? 

There are several types of commonly used performance tests. Each type is designed to test a different performance category. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more frequently used tests.

Load Testing

Load testing simply looks at how a platform responds to a specific workload. This could be ideal, low, or high. 

Stress Testing  

Stress testing seeks to increase the workload to induce failure.

Endurance Testing

Endurance testing examines the differences in performance over a longer set period of time. This could be minutes to hours.   

Spike Testing

Spike testing measures the response of a program while it experiences sudden increases and dips in workload or traffic. 

Scalability Testing

Scalability testing reveals how your program deals with steadily increasing workloads, commensurate with the expected usage of a steadily growing audience.

Volume Testing

Volume testing examines the reaction of your program as you flood its databases with huge amounts of data simultaneously.   

How Do You Perform a Performance Test?

Now that we have covered the basics of performance testing, we can dive into the “how-to” of it. There are several steps in conducting a performance test. Typically, these steps fall under the performance testing life cycle. 

Risk Assessment

In this first step, you determine what type of testing is needed on which components, and which components take testing priority. Essentially, you ask yourself what poses the greatest risk to each component, and which components are most important, and then run tests accordingly. For example, not every component will benefit from volume testing to the same degree, and not every component is as critical to the success of a platform. 

Requirement Gathering and Analysis

Once you know which components and tests are required, it’s time to decide what performance testing metrics you will use to measure the test. This will help you truly lock down what you hope to learn from the test, identify what success will look like, and help you compare this version of a test to previous/future versions of the same test. 

Performance Test Planning

Now is the time to plan exactly what you are going to do, and when. This should be a written log of who is responsible for what, when the test will be conducted, and any other logistics necessary. This also lets you identify potential risks that may occur during the test, like servers being offline or other interruptions to regular workdays. 

Performance Test Design and Scripting

Once the plan is set, you are ready to design the performance tests. This means writing code that mimics the real-world scenarios you are trying to recreate. 

Workload Modeling

As a part of designing the test, you will need to identify the needs for structuring each specific test scenario in the plan. Again, this requires deciding exactly what metrics you are hoping to measure in your tests.

Test Execution

Finally, it’s time to run the test. In addition to making sure that everything is taken care of prior to running the test, the tester should also monitor the testing environment throughout the evaluation. 

Results Analysis, Reporting, Recommendations 

Once the test is complete, it’s time to analyze the results, generate a report of the findings, and make recommendations as to what actions should be taken to improve the software moving forward. 

Foulk Consulting…The Best At Performance Tests

At Foulk, we have over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of trust, service, and results. Our certified quality assurance specialists help you decide which tests and metrics best serve your program. Beyond that, our services and support are tailored to your exact needs, from ad-hoc consulting to mature performance engineering processes. We are in it for the long run with ongoing consulting to empower your product from initial release onward. So, no matter where you’re at in the process, we can help. Contact us today to learn what solutions we have for you.

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