How Load Testing Can Improve Your Drupal Site's Performance

It’s helpful to know the limitations of any tool you use: to recognize where it will bend and when it could possibly break. The same is true for your Web content management system. Why learn only after the fact that your system will sputter if, say, 500 visitors submitted a site query at the same time? That’s where load testing comes in. This is the first part of a blog series that will show how load testing can makes a big difference in achieving optimal site performance. Your users define where the load testing should take place, so you can’t go wrong. Building your website and understanding where you load test may need a little bit of extra care -- that’s where Drupal fits nicely. And it gets even better with Drupal 8, now available on the Acquia Platform. But just keep in mind that from your users’ perspectives, which are the viewpoints you want when you’re actually building the test, they don’t know you’re using Drupal. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that a load needs to be built in a distinct way just for Drupal. So before we get started, let’s quickly go over some load testing terminology so that we’re on the same page. Performance is defined by the speed that an individual request takes. When people talk about performance, they don’t mean the performance of a hundred users at a time. They’re also not referring to the performance of one user making five requests. True, maximizing performance can be about focusing on a single request or a single action and maybe doing some averaging or other calculations on it – but, for the most part, it’s one action over and over, all the while testing how things change over time. It’s all about scalability. You want the same performance whether one person or 100 people visit your site. That’s effective scalability. To get there, a lot of your load testing will review how the site responds over different points in time. Essentially: What does your normal traffic look like and how does your application respond to it? We’ll start digging deeper into load testing in the next blog so that you can start making the most of this exciting new platform. See you soon.