Getting your website ready for Black Friday (already)

Getting your website ready for Black Friday (already)

Deep discounts are not the only thing you need to succeed on Black Friday. Your website will get more visitors that day than any other. If your site can't handle the increase in traffic, potential customers will give up and shop somewhere else. Missing out on all that revenue can be disastrous, so you need to make sure you're ready for the big day while there's still plenty of time to make any necessary upgrades.


Test Your Site’s Performance

The biggest thing standing between you and Black Friday success is website performance. If pages take too long to load, visitors will stop browsing, abandon their shopping carts, and shift their loyalty to one of your competitors.

The answer is load testing. Many businesses don’t bother with load testing because of the high costs of hardware. Thanks to cloud-based load testing solutions, it’s possible to load test any site at a fraction of what it used to cost. You’ll only pay for the server usage necessary to run the test. Using the cloud, you can emulate users from around the world or stay local depending on your customer base.

Record some test scripts that imitate typical user behavior (searching, adding products to the shopping cart, checkout). Then look at last year’s Black Friday traffic to see how many visitors you’ll need to test for. Plan on an increase in traffic depending on sales projections.

Crash on Purpose

The purpose of load testing is to make sure your site can handle the expected number of visitors without slowing down significantly. But stress testing is meant to see how much traffic it takes to overwhelm your servers and crash your site. Some businesses don’t bother with stress testing. But if your site crashes on Black Friday, your company may soon follow.

A robust site can handle more visitors than even the most optimistic sales manager can imagine. One of your products could be included in a publication’s gift suggestions. A high profile celebrity could share their love your products. Or you could find yourself with this year’s must-have item.

Stress testing will ensure that your site can handle unexpected success.

Prepare for Seasonal Challenges

Although consumers are increasingly using Black Friday to treat themselves to otherwise unaffordable items, the day is still focused on gift shopping. That means orders will be more complicated than usual. Include shipping to multiple addresses in your test scripts.

Your site may have seasonal features, such as holiday graphics or gift suggestions for her, him, and so on. Even if you didn’t have anything special last year, now is the time to ask your business users if they’d like to do something along those lines. Designing and building site enhancements when you have months to spare is going to result in a more robust site.

Be Prepared

Your business could achieve viral success at any time of the year, bringing in Black Friday-levels of traffic unexpectedly. Thorough load and stress testing will make sure that you’re always ready for an increase in business. If you’re looking for tools to get started with load testing, there are a few options. In terms of a free option, Apache’s JMeter tool is unmatched. If you’re looking for a paid option, you may want to consider LoadView or HP LoadRunner.

This is a guest post by Jen Oksnevad.

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