A warning about performance testing

A few days ago, I was deep into testing my website and wrote up a quick article about some tools that I use when I’m testing sites. After a few days of reflection, I realize that I should have included a warning in that article.

Be very careful before you start performance testing your website. The key thing to remember is that a very typical run of ab looks a lot like a denial of service attack. Good hosts will ban any endpoint that sends that much traffic that quickly.

Before you do any performance testing, read what kinds of terms your host imposes upon you. And if you self host your website, be sure to turn off any security software that automatically bans users who flood the website with too many requests per second. This will save you from some serious headaches.

Free tools for website performance testing

Web application/site speed is a major factor in whether it will achieve its marketing goals. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good your content, service or product is, if your web property is slow, most people won’t come back.

Luckily, we have tools to give us a sense of how much traffic our sites can handle and lots of them are free or open source. Here are some of my favourite tools for monitoring how a site or application performs:

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Interesting performance benchmarks with a new theme

Note – I’m doing a lot of performance testing on this production site so some things might be sketchy for the next couple of days.

I launched this new theme about ten days ago and have been running performance tests against it ever since. Making the home page much more static has yielded some remarkable performance boosts on its own. But over the weekend, I experimented with generating static menus into header.php and footer.php. The results of that were absolutely crazy so I pushed a new change into the theme last week and plan to have a fully static menu system by the end of 2019.

In very complex performance testing with Locust.io, with caching turned off, making my header and footer menus static increased my requests per second by over 30%. With aggressive caching turned on, making those menus static still increased my requests per second by over 4%.

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