If your business operates election websites and apps, load testing is the best tool around to ensure your infrastructure can handle the massive traffic influx on Election Day. Your company doesn’t need to guess how much traffic it can handle: load testing for websites and applications can determine how well the current configuration will perform, and how to expand to meet increasing demand. The following tips will help your organization prepare to get the most out of Election Day traffic through load testing.
How Big Is Election Day?
For news and election-related sites, Election Day is reliably the highest-traffic day of the year; presidential election years see even larger spikes. For example, CNN saw 203 million page views and reached more than 23 million unique visitors on its desktop site and 46 million page views on its mobile site in 2012.
Tip #1: Use Stress Testing
Running stress tests on your platforms is one of the best things your company can do to proactively keep services online through Election Day. This practice helps ensure the platform can withstand continuous traffic over a long period of time. Since news breaks consistently over several hours, people will repeatedly check in throughout the day to see how results have changed.
- Stress test both for visitors accessing the site, as well as the capabilities of the application to update results.
- Run repeated stress tests at different traffic levels, increasing progressively from 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and so on.
- Run a single-user test.
- The length of the test in minutes should be the number of virtual users divided by 10.
Tip #2: Learn from End User Testing
It’s also essential to utilize end user testing to determine how effective the platforms are for visitors. Your company needs to make sure the interface works, and that people can find, sort, and interpret results in user-friendly manner. A system that is difficult to navigate will turn off visitors and lead them to other sites.
- Create use-case scenarios and test them, like “find the number of precincts reporting in the Florida gubernatorial race” or “check who is winning the Presidential Election.”
- Make changes to the user interface to improve accessibility and revisit with additional tests.
- Be careful not to expose your testing results to the public when performing this test, as people may stumble upon it and accuse your company of “rigging” the election results.
Tip #3: Plan for the Unexpected with Capacity Testing
Running load tests to gauge capacity capabilities and plan for scaling scenarios will help keep your platforms online even when traffic increases beyond your wildest expectations. As time goes on, your company can expect increasing numbers of impatient people bash-refreshing your website and application pages hoping to see the latest results, causing massive traffic spikes.
- Run capacity planning load tests to see which parts of the infrastructure (application servers, database servers, etc.) need to be upgraded to handle expected traffic.
- Devise a plan from load testing results to expand cloud infrastructure to handle increased demand if needed. (Scaling rations need to be determined in advance.)
- Do not be a victim of success: Avoid a situation where your platform fails from being unexpectedly popular.
The Bottom Line – Testing Election Websites and Apps is Important
If your company’s platforms buckle under the traffic hike, increased load times mean guests will abandon them and seek the information elsewhere. Don’t let a slow platform stop your business from getting the most out of a big traffic day. The experts at Apica are ready to help your business make sure its website and application infrastructure can handle the immense demands of Election Day traffic through load testing. Contact us today to get started.