conference wordpress site (part 2) – load testing and monitoring

In May 2016, a well motivated group of Toastmasters in Prague and Brno, teamed up to organise a “Toastmasters Leadership Institute” conference, in less than 2 months. In this mini series I explain the steps I took to get the web site up and running.

Fact: a conference site receives bursts of traffic driven by social media activity, and then sits idle for most of the day.

Load Testing

Our aim was to bring roughly 100 people to the TLI conference.

I estimated that our PR campaigns would drive about 40 visitors in the minutes immediately following our posts on Facebook. I wanted to verify that the response time of the site under such load would be reasonable (within 2 seconds?) . To do so, I created a test case in jMeter that would run 40 concurrent users, browsing every single page of the site. (how-to write a jmeter test case)

If you don’t want to learn jMeter (and all the stuff connected to load testing) , you can use loadimpact.com , which is able to run a simple load test in 5 minutes, returning a good-enough report.

Monitoring

Your web site will fail! Prepare for it.

One Sunday afternoon I was walking back home, when I received a notification on my phone : “The TLI web site is down”. I notified Lukas (the “responsible person” as he called himself) and Zuzana (our PR super girl) , letting them know that I would work on it in a few minutes.

Knowing that the site was down, we delayed a social media PR campaign that was bound to send tens of visitors to our pages.

Host-Tracker is an online service that periodically visits your site, and if the site is not responsive, it can send you a notification via email, SMS, voice call, or a number of web services. The free plan allows to monitor one site every 30 minutes. (how-to create an alert in host-tracker)

Why does this matter?

Have you ever clicked on a link that took forever to load? 3 seconds feel like an eternity. 10 seconds is just unacceptable! When you choose a platform on which to deploy your site, you need to know that it can serve your expected traffic within a reasonable time frame. Fail to do so, and you’ll lose your audience.

When your site goes down, you must be the first one to know about it. Next thing you do: you notify your team, so that they don’t try to showcase the site, or launch some PR action! Be in control of your site.

 

Part 1 – hosting and plugins

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