July 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Test deep with site functions for holiday peaks, expert says

One sign of maturing e-commerce is more widespread web site performance testing in the months before peak shopping seasons, but e-retailers should be sure to check individual site functions, says Ken Godskind, web performance evangelist at AlertSite.

One sign of a maturing e-commerce industry is more widespread web site performance testing in the months leading up to peak shopping seasons, but e-retailers should check site functions under heavy traffic loads, says Ken Godskind, vice president of web performance evangelism at AlertSite.

Under best practices of monitoring web site performance, e-retailers should test separately key areas including the home page, site search function, checkout process and order confirmations, Godskind says. “Combining system utilization and analytics, retailers should be able to extrapolate a lot about response times under peak user load,” he says.

Godskind says more retailers seem to be practicing more comprehensive testing. “We’re seeing a lot more retailers moving from a basic attitude of ‘Is my store up?’ to ‘Let’s interact with different site functions’ to get a deeper insight into customer experience by each site function.”

A continuous policy of testing several areas of a web site, in both peak and non-peak periods, helps to produce a comprehensive view of performance, he adds.

But even the best sites can experience occasional outages, for which retailers should have a back-up plan, Godskind says. “Instead of just having customers see an error page, at least show a page with a logo that says, ‘Sorry, the store is not available now.’”

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