For a lot of IT folks working on business-to-consumer websites, it's starting to feel a lot like Christmas.
Many consumer-oriented companies are pulling together their holiday sales strategies for the Web right now. Unfortunately, IT is ignorant of many of the programs being created and no one has actually tested whether the websites can actually meet expectations.
According to Joel Weierman, senior manager for professional services at Neustar Webmetrics, a provider of website testing tools, the best thing that IT folks can do is start being proactive in terms of finding out just what the folks in marketing are planning for the holiday season. Once they quantify those expectations, Neustar Webmetrics is offering a series of testing tips that IT organizations should take to heart when performing stress tests on their websites.
It's only September, but Weierman says many organizations are already running short on time and budget when it comes to testing their websites for the holiday season. All too often, the programs are being developed right down to the last minute, which eliminates any time for testing. A recent online marketing flub by Target shows just how fragile even the most well-established website can be during non-holiday months.
The good news, however, is that there is now a raft of cloud computing services that can provide additional capacity with a little advanced planning. But even then, Weierman says throwing capacity doesn't necessarily mean the overall site will meet performance expectations. What's required is a thorough analysis of loads being carried on the site using real browsers and real people as much as possible, because what performs well once under simulated conditions might not behave exactly the same way twice. Of course, the worst possible time to figure all that out is right before Thanksgiving Day weekend.