3 Quick Wins for Load Testing Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Small things you can do to make a big difference in your site's reliability

If you are one of many retailers or E-Commerce sites, you are likely in the midst of preparing for another hectic Black Friday push.  In fact, many retailers see that 30-40% or more of their business can occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. If you are pushing a major Black Friday  or Cyber Monday promotion, you might see anywhere from a 3-5x increase compared to your average traffic for any other day in November.

So, seeing as this is a mission critical time for any retailer or E-Commerce site, it is essential that you adequately prepare for the traffic you are about to encounter.  After all, if your site goes down, you will be losing out on a great opportunity revenue.  And even if your site is able to stay up and withstand the increased traffic, if pages begin loading slowly, you may lose sales too.

So with the holidays right around the corner, we figured we would highlight 3 quick wins you can make to jump start your load testing for Black Friday:

  1. Use the cloud to save time and cost
  2. Load test using browsers for easy and accurate testing
  3. Make load testing part of the strategy going forward

Win #1: Use the Cloud to Save Time and Cost

Leveraging a cloud load testing platform for Black Friday or Cyber Monday preparations is a no brainer.  

First of all, most E-Commerce platforms are publicly accessible.  So there should be no concerns in using a cloud load testing platform to test against your online store.

Second, cloud load testing platforms are available for you to use now.  You can get online and sign up in minutes, rather than waiting weeks for servers to be approved or struggling to install load testing programs yourself.  Time is of the essence as the holidays are right around the corner.

Lastly, your load testing needs will change as the year goes on, and will likely decrease from Black Friday or Cyber Monday levels.  Using a cloud platform will allow you to increase and decrease that infrastructure on demand.

Our cloud platform, flood.io is available now for a free trial where you can test with thousands of users for free, and set up takes only minutes.  Sign up for a free trial here .

Win #2: Load Test with Browsers for Easy and Accurate Results

Most load testing solutions will rely on testing your application with simulated users that interact with the API or protocol layer of your application.  While these solutions have worked well historically, in a Black Friday or Cyber Monday context they can fail for a number of reasons, including:

  • Tests are too difficult and time consuming to write on short notice
  • API's are not well documented or available from 3rd party plugins used on the site
  • Performance of the API does not match what the user sees in the front end

Newer approaches to load testing have gone away from testing at the protocol level to testing with real browsers.  With browser level testing, many of the problems of protocol level testing can be eliminated through a holistically different approach:

  • Tests are written in a language similar that is straightforward and cuts test scripting time down by 5-10x
  • Application is load tested through the front end, removing the need to interact with any plugins directly
  • Performance measured is the true browser performance, which is exactly what the user sees

The most popular open source, browser based load testing solution on the market today is Flood Element.  More information on how to write a quick and easy load test in Element is provided here.

Win #3: Make Load Testing Part of the Strategy Going Forward

Ok, so maybe you survived Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year by the skin of your teeth.  You were barely able to run the load tests needed to ensure you would weather the onslaught of visitors that these holidays bring.  

However, wouldn't it be nice to feel that you were prepared well before the holidays are approaching?

One way we are seeing teams eliminate this last second struggle to load test is by adopting a culture of continuous load testing.  In this process, teams are load testing with every build that comes through their CI/CD pipeline.  Continuous load testing can ensure that performance regressions are identified immediately before they compound and become performance nightmares.

More information on how to integrate load testing into your CI/CD pipeline can be found here.


With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, you ideally should be load testing to prepare already.  However, we all procrastinate, and it's quite possible you've still got no confidence that your application is going to perform during this peak shopping period.  That's OK - we've provided a blueprint for 3 quick wins to help make up ground and ensure this holiday season is a successful one.

Good luck - and happy testing!

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