Qué son las pruebas de estrés y cómo ayudar a que las plataformas no se “caigan”

Increasingly, brands are turning to digital channels. The challenge: to provide a satisfactory user experience. How to know if a website can withstand a high flow of visitors and how to improve navigation. What this tool is and how it works.

Web platforms became one of the big winners in the coronavirus quarantine, in the face of increased online activity and the growth of e-commerce.

However, in a context where users demand fast responses and satisfying experiences, providing optimal navigation is a challenge for brands. In a scenario of increasing digitisation, companies have been forced to turn to virtual platforms to retain consumers and attract new ones during the pandemic.

More and more companies are incorporating solutions to optimise their websites. However, it is not enough to have a presence on digital channels. It is key to make sure that the online pages work 100%, in order to deliver the best experience to its users.

According to Google data, users wait between one and three seconds for platforms to respond, otherwise they abandon them or show dissatisfaction. How do you know if your site is "crashing" when many users are accessing it at the same time? How do you identify areas for improvement and develop action plans to provide a better browsing experience?

Atentus has its own methodology, unique in the market, which measures the performance of an application or web platform against different levels of concurrency during a given period of time. The service consists of a series of load tests, also known as "stress" tests, which determine the responsiveness and browsing experience when faced with a high number of simultaneous users.

This is possible thanks to bots that generate automatic and massive browsing, "stressing" the app or platform in question, in order to know its behaviour and reaction to multiple sessions at the same time.

The Chilean company "stresses" static and transactional sites, SOAP & REST web services and intranet web applications. The areas that use the measurement the most are universities and educational institutions (especially before enrolment periods and exams), e-commerce platforms (especially in the run-up to big sales events such as Blackfriday and Cybermonday), banks and service providers that have payment platforms.

"When users do not receive a satisfactory browsing experience, they feel frustrated and consider it a waste of time. Even if a site doesn't work or is slow, it can lead to irritability and distrust. The risk is that the user turns away and chooses a competitor," says Florencia Tcholakian, Atentus' commercial manager for Argentina and Uruguay.

"Let's remember that one negative opinion has a greater impact than 10 positive ones. Through social media and opinion forums, consumers can share their opinions and publicise negative experiences, which can sometimes cost a company millions and shake up its brands," says Tcholakian.

How is the test carried out?

Atentus, develops its own browser, in order to automate the process and interact in the same way as a real user would, where each instance is started without cache.

It has a series of steps for the proper performance of stress tests: confirmation of technical feasibility, execution of the load test, performance of the stress test, analysis of the results obtained and delivery of reports to the client for decision making.

The study lasts between 2 and 5 hours. It is carried out in conjunction with the client's technical area in order to produce changes in real time, in case the page goes "down" earlier than planned. The most frequent drawbacks detected are insufficient capacity to support a high number of visitors and low server bandwidth (where the application or database is hosted).

It is not possible to determine how many users web platforms support at times like these. "The number is variable, depending on several factors, such as the industry, the company's presence in the market and its investment in infrastructure," Tcholakian explains.

The solution provides an online log of the service execution and comprehensive reports with the results of each test including recommendations to implement. Knowing and mitigating the risks related to poor app and website performance is critical today.

To this end, the installation of monitoring stations in the data centres of the main national and international Internet service providers is key. It allows to obtain, in an objective way, the service capacity and performance.

"Having a system that meets quality standards and an adequate technological infrastructure, as well as being proactive and periodically testing platforms with such tools, helps to identify bottlenecks and implement improvements on a regular basis," concludes Tcholakian.

About Atentus

It is a company specialised in delivering metrics and indicators for the quality management of digital channels and technological infrastructure services, which allow analysis to establish and control service levels, with the purpose of improving end-user satisfaction and contributing to the continuous improvement process of companies' IT systems. Founded in 2001, the firm is present in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru and Mexico, and offers a wide range of customised services.