Valentine’s Day used to mean leaving candies on someone’s desk with a nice scribbled note as a sign of affection. In today’s fast-paced world, however, Valentine’s Day usually means scrambling last minute to come up with an ornate, unique gift that will really make someone’s day.
In fact in 2018, orders from FTD.com, ProFlowers.com and 1800Flowers.com peaked on Feb. 13, with more orders on Feb. 12-13 than on the previous five days combined, according to marketing analysts firm Edison Trends, which based its data on 2.9 million U.S. shoppers’ email and app receipts. How can you ensure that your applications are ready for the mad dash before Valentine’s Day?
Check out these four last minute steps you can take to validate that your application can withstand the madness, and your customers have a loving relationship with you this Valentine’s Day:
1. Functional Testing – Does Everything Work?
One of the most obvious steps is to make sure everything on your website, mobile app, and even your APIs, are functioning as expected. This means making sure all your forms work, the transactions (even back-end transactions) flow properly, buttons navigate to the right place, links are active, promo codes apply the right discount, etc. Functional testing does require that you know a bit about the website/application/API, but to prepare for situations like this, the best thing to do is think like a user rather than an employee.
Shift your point of view, forget everything about the internal processes at your company, and try to map out what steps a user, both returning visitors and brand-new visitors, would take the day before Valentine’s Day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. That’s what automated testing is for.
2. Browser Testing – Can Every Visitor Have The Same Experience?
In today’s day and age, everyone uses a variety of different devices and browsers. You don’t want to limit your potential by skipping out on browser testing. Just because your website looks amazing in Google Chrome, it may not be the case on another browser, say Safari or Firefox, and the same goes for devices. What may render properly on a desktop may not actually be the same on your tablet or mobile phone.
Since there are a wide range of configurations that are possible to test, it could be helpful to start by checking your historical visitor data, from applications like Google Analytics or a Real-User Monitoring tool, to narrow your focus based on the users you tend to see most frequently.
3. Load Testing – Can My Application Handle The Traffic?
One of the most dreaded steps of a release or preparation for a big traffic day is load testing. This makes sense, since it tends to be where problems are revealed, and when teams have to go back to the drawing board to get their websites and apps ready for production. Load testing validates that your websites, applications, and APIs are ready to handle expected traffic. Typically, this process takes a while to perfect since it involves a lot of correlation and work to get the test ready to run, plus you have to account for the time it takes to actually execute the test.
However, recent innovation in the load testing space has opened the doors for teams to create tests without digging into code with a SmartBear tool, called LoadNinja. Now software teams don’t have to skip this step or reduce test coverage for fear of perpetuating the bottleneck and delaying the next release. That being said, there’s literally not a single reason to skip this essential step of the prep process. Just because your website, application, or API passes a functional test or a browser test, doesn't mean it will pass a load test. Ensuring your site can handle your visitors is a major key to success.
4. Synthetic Monitoring – Is Everything Up And Running?
And last, but certainly not least, before the big rush, it’s absolutely vital to make sure your synthetic monitors are ready to roll and equipped to alert your Operations team of any performance deviations in production. Synthetic monitors basically act as an early warning system for your websites, applications, and APIs. They ensure that key user journeys are captured and functioning as expected, 24x7.
These handy monitors make it possible for your teams to know when a page, an API, or a process is slow, or even worse, when it is down. These tools instantly alert your team, so you can fix it before your customers or potential customers encounter the problem. So they’re basically your golden ticket to avoiding a revenue and PR nightmare.
4 ½. Monitor Third-Party Content
One of the biggest problems companies saw during Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year was issues with third-party content providers. Whether you rely on CDNs, payment processors, or cloud-host providers, it’s imperative that you can identify when they are the root-cause of your performance issue. There are tools that allow you to monitor these SLAs easily so you know when anything strays from the agreed upon threshold. Plus, it makes resolving the problem a whole lot easier when you can easily pinpoint the core of the issue.
Getting your digital channels geared up for the last-minute Valentine’s Day rush can seem intimidating, but if you keep these four steps in mind as the days creep in, you’ll be set up for success.
Saoirse Hinksmon is a digital content marketing manager at SmartBear, a software company that provides testing, monitoring, and developer tools.