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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Performance Testing for Retail

In the broadest sense, testing falls into two categories: ongoing evaluation and tweaking to optimize daily performance, and peak load testing to determine overall site capacity and potential breakpoints.
In either case, the only way to quantify user experience is to measure what users are actually experiencing. Unless you’re the local bike shop serving only your immediate area, the testing needs to be done across a wide geography and multiple backbones. And it needs to use an actual Web browser, and go through the same type of page view sequences and transactions as a typical user would. There’s simply no other way to get a true perspective on what users are really experiencing.

Ongoing performance testing, done on a routine basis or following upgrades, patches, or redesigns, can be as simple or complex as the site itself. Assuming the back of the house is in order — that servers are performing up to speed and all of the infrastructure is optimized — the focus of the testing is on the front end. Individual pages are tested and analyzed, and those performing below par are deconstructed to identify the structural problems or elements that are causing the slowdowns.

A single element could be dragging down the page load, or it could be less-than-ideal placement of JavaScript on the page. The point is that testing and identifying the problem pages or transactions is only half the problem. The other half is being able to pinpoint the causes and correct them. A robust performance evaluation regimen accomplishes this.

A few retailers are feeling upbeat about the coming holiday season. Best Buy is planning to do more holiday hiring than last year, partly because of strengthening demand for flat-screen TVs, smartphones, and netbook computers, and partly because of market share they captured following last year’s demise of Circuit City. Target plans to have 26 new stores open in time for the holidays, including five “Super Target” stores with full grocery departments; this, and more aggressive pricing, are moving Target closer to a head-to-head brawl with Wal-Mart.

Most retailers, however, are simply looking for ways to maximize their share of holiday revenue. Deep and earlier discounting is expected to be widespread. And in a throwback to an earlier era, and at least partly in response to a growing paucity of consumer credit, the layaway plan is making a comeback. K-Mart and its parent company, Sears, are both offering not only in-store layaway plans, but also online versions as well. Consumers can reserve their merchandise and make payments online, and when they are paid in full, pick up their merchandise in the store. Whatever it takes, even down to giving away free gift cards, retailers are doing to get consumers to buy, either in the store or online.

Source: http://keynote.com/benchmark/online_retail/christmas_article.shtml

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Internal Testing Program Using Real Devices

Creating an internal test program using real devices is a challenge. The devices have to be bought, carrier contracts have to be established, test scripts created, users trained, results compiled and analyzed — for each geographic market. And then the devices and contracts have to be dealt with after the testing is done, or maintained for ongoing monitoring.
This complexity is why so many enterprises use an outside test partner that offers an established infrastructure with hundreds or thousands of devices deployed over a broad geography. The test provider works with the client company to develop the necessary scripts, and then leases time to them on its network to run the tests. This is testing in the "public cloud," which means that many clients utilize the same devices and infrastructure to conduct their tests. It's an ideal solution for most companies — there's no upfront capital expenditure and tests can be quickly executed on demand, on a budget-friendly pay-per-use basis.
But when a company has particular security concerns and is reluctant to expose its data on a shared infrastructure, or if it has ongoing testing needs, a "private cloud"solution is in order. In this case, the test provider procures devices and contracts to create a private test network exclusively for the use of a particular client company.
In either case, the client team has ready online access to the entire process, from scripting to running the tests to reading results.
Cloud-based app testing is an automated process. There's no human being working the phones out in the field; rather, the devices are remotely operated by machine, performing the interactions specified in the test scripts and providing feedback on the devices' responses.
Read More at http://keynote.com/benchmark/mobile_wireless/article_mobile_app_performance.shtml