Live from GIPC: Load Test Tips from Circuit City

New York – Circuit City learned the art of testing its Website the hard way. In a session at Monday’s Global Internet Performance Conference, Kevin Hewett, e-commerce infrastructure manager for the consumer electronics retailer, shared the trials and successes of performing load tests on its five-year-old site.

Circuit City didn’t conduct any load test during the first three years of the site’s existence. As result, customers got caught up in bottlenecks, and Circuit City encountered bandwidth limitations. In 2002 the company turned to self-service external load testing, and last year it outsourced the scripting and execution of its load tests to Keynote Systems.

Hewett offered several testing tips:

* Load test during off-peak hours. Circuit City runs its tests between 1 a.m and 4 a.m. midweek.

* Clearly define the roles of each team member to ensure that the entire site is tested.

* Market the team’s efforts and results. Circuit City sends an e-mail to company executives before leaving for the evening.

* Reward the testing team. Circuit City team members, for instance, eat dinner together before each test.