Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Breaking the Site

Alright, so now you're probably wondering what I mean by "Breaking the Site..."

It's simple! You need to make sure your site's functionality works 99% or so (I threw that out randomly so don't take it to heart too much) of the time.

Why?
Well, your site's functionality shows how much effort you took toward creating a professional site and any broken pieces will hurt your reputation among your visitors one way or another.

I mean, honestly, would you trust your credit card information to a site that constantly had errors with its code? I sure as heck wouldn't.

So how do you "break the site"
There are several methods of breaking the site... Two of the biggest are functional and performance testing.

Functional Testing
Functional testing is a process where you go through all the functions and make sure they all work well. This can be troublesomely long if the site is huge but still is fairly important if you want to make sure your site is well developed. In the event there is a problem you send the programmer what you did up to that point and the actual error returned.

Performance Testing
This is a bit more fun to do but, unless you work for a large company, you will probably never have a chance to access the tools ($$$$$) required to do some of this work. Looking at your logs, however, I guess, can show you some performance information like the number of users on your site and then you can compare that to error log.

What performance testing is, however, is scripting the functionality of well known processes (like logging in) and then, after you parameterize your variables, hitting the site with a predetermined amount of users over an extended period of time.

This can show you problems with the memory, system usage, and so on.

Again, you probably don't need to know any of this for your e-business but it's good to know what types of well known and performed testing are out there.


So break it and then fix it.

-Tim

40 Comments:

At 2:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Performance Testing....I think that the client needs to have specified upfront what their performance level requirements are...too many times clients haven't thought thru what their tolerance level is for the page load and then when the site is delivered and it takes 30 seconds to load, they aren't happy... Avoid those issues by finding out what the requirements are upfront ...they should also give you information regarding level of activity anticipated as well as peak loads, etc......

And then of course, if you are serious about the site and have personal information or financial information that you are retaining/using, get some performance testing/ethical hacking done. If you don't have the expertise inhouse, contract for it...there are businesses out there that do that type of thing - and you are protecting your investment by making sure that the performance is there and that it's secure...

So, can you share a bit more about site security and your thoughts regarding data backup ?

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Timo said...

Yeah, generally the business partners I worked with when performance testing had a generally good idea of how many hits their old site received. You cannot accurately predict the number but past logs can be helpful.

It really depends on how fast your site becomes popular in terms of a new startup site.

It's important that you do backup data consistently as well. However, this can be automated to a certain degree.

As for site security, I think I mentioned a lot of the general holes that hackers exploit in my finding a programmer blog entry but, yeah, I agree ethical hacking is a good way to test to see if those holes exist or not.

 
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