Struggling to maintain optimal performance for your web application as your user base grows and complex features are implemented? If so, we’ve got you covered in this article!
In today’s digital world, the expectation of users regarding application performance is centred around speed, responsiveness, and overall user experience. Users anticipate applications to load quickly and respond promptly to their actions. They expect smooth navigation, seamless transitions between screens or pages, and minimal delays or buffering.
It’s easy to have an application that operates smoothly and efficiently, when you have a small number of features and users. However, as you add more functionality or experience an increase in traffic, it can become an important and complex issue to attend to. Neglecting this important aspect can cause significant problems for your business. That’s why it’s crucial to tackle this issue before it becomes urgent.
At Mallow, we’ve worked with clients who have had to deal with this issue while scaling their complex applications. While their applications perform well now, we continue to make improvements because we understand that this is an ongoing journey. To enhance your application’s performance, the first step is to assess its current state and identify areas for enhancement. Our article below provides valuable insights into how you can validate your application’s performance.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of how to validate your application’s performance.
Why is it crucial to have a fast and efficient application?
Before we learn how to verify the performance of your application and improve it, it’s critical to understand why it is important to make your application perform well.
A high-performing application can help users be productive without consuming their time. It ensures quick response times and seamless access to data or information, meeting the current expectations of users. This is particularly vital for applications that involve time-sensitive tasks, such as online shopping sites, financial applications, or healthcare applications, where users rely on swift data access and efficient interactions.
Below are the visible benefits of having a high performing applications.
- Improved Customer Satisfaction and Trust – The application’s quick response to user requests, high availability, and seamless experience contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction and trust. This positive experience fosters loyalty and increases the likelihood of customers recommending the application, thereby improving the company’s reputation and expanding its customer base.
- Cost Efficiency through Optimised Resource Utilisation: With optimised code and efficient resource utilisation, the application reduces infrastructure and maintenance costs. By ensuring resources are used effectively, the application maximises cost savings for the business.
- High Scalability and Availability: The application’s ability to handle multiple concurrent requests and accommodate high traffic volumes ensures uninterrupted access for users. This results in seamless service delivery, even during peak periods, and upholds the uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA). The application’s reliability and availability guarantee a smooth user experience, minimising any negative impact on the business.
- Competitive Differentiation and Industry Leadership: A faster and more reliable application sets your business apart from competitors and attracts a larger user base. By providing superior performance, your business establishes itself as a leader in the industry, reinforcing its position and market presence.
How can I validate the performance of my application?
Measuring performance is crucial in determining the application’s efficiency and identifying areas for improvement. Below is how each parameter can be validated.
1. Checking Metrics in Application Performance Monitoring (APM) Tools
One of the most common ways to test application performance is through the use of APM tools.
Below is how you can check the metrics of your application using APM.
- Start by defining specific performance goals for your application. These goals could include response time, throughput, error rates, or other relevant metrics. Having clear objectives will guide your performance validation process.
- Implement the necessary APM tooling in your application.There are many APM tools available in the market such as Newrelic, Datadog, AppDynamics, Elastic APM etc. It is important to research and compare different APM tools to determine which one is best suited for your application’s needs. Ensure that the instrumentation covers critical components, transactions, and user interactions within your application.
- Analyse the performance data collected by the APM tools and evaluate whether your application meets the defined performance goals. Identify any performance bottlenecks, areas of improvement, or anomalies observed during the testing.
2. Checking Database Query Performance
Slow database queries can significantly impact the performance of an application and cause delays in executing critical tasks. Therefore, it is important to monitor database query performance regularly.
Below are the steps to validate your database query performance:
- Utilise query profiling tools to gather information about query execution plans, execution time, and resource utilisation. Profiling tools help you understand how queries are being executed and identify potential areas for optimization.
- Determine the critical queries that are frequently executed and have a significant impact on the overall performance of your application. These may include complex queries, frequently accessed data, or queries involved in critical operations. Examine the query execution plans. The execution plan shows how the query is being processed and provides insights into the operations performed, index usage, and potential performance bottlenecks. Look for inefficient operations, full table scans, or missing indexes that can be optimised. Analyse the query execution plans to identify whether indexes are being utilised effectively or if new indexes are to be created. Review the structure of your queries to ensure they are optimised.
- One way to monitor database query performance is to use tools like PG Hero, MySQLTuner and Oracle Enterprise Manager etc. These tools help to find configuration issues, slow queries, unused indexes and missing indexes, etc. It is important to use the tool that is specific to the database management system (DBMS).
3. Checking the Response Time
Response time measures the amount of time it takes for the application to respond to a user’s request. If the response time is too slow, it can lead to a poor user experience and deter users from using the application.
Below are the steps to test your applications response time:
- Identify the key user flows or transactions within your application that should be tested for response time. These could include login processes, form submissions, data retrieval, or any other critical interactions.
- Utilise application performance monitoring (APM) tools or similar solutions to track response times of these key user flows.
Additionally, Load testing is done to determine how much traffic or load the application can handle before it starts to fail or become slow. By validating the capacity, we can get the application ready for the maximum capacity and scale the capacity based on need. You can do load testing by using popular tools like Apache JMeter, Gatling, Locust, etc.
4. Checking the response of various Request and File Sizes
Testing how your application responds to different requests and file sizes is a critical aspect of ensuring optimal performance and reliability.
Consider the following steps when conducting such tests,
- Determine a range of request sizes that cover different scenarios your application may encounter. This can include small, medium, and large request sizes, as well as edge cases or maximum limits.
- Send requests of varying sizes to your application and measure its response time for each size category. Evaluate whether the application can handle different request sizes efficiently without significant delays or performance degradation.
- Conduct tests specifically focused on file upload and download functionality. Upload files of different sizes to assess the application’s ability to handle them without errors or excessive processing times. Similarly, download files of various sizes and evaluate the time taken to complete the downloads.
- During testing, monitor the utilisation of application’s resources such as CPU, memory, and network bandwidth. Ensure that the application’s resource consumption remains within acceptable limits across different request and file sizes.
5. Verify the CPU & Memory utilisation
High CPU and memory utilisation can slow down the application’s response, and it can also cause the application to crash.
To validate the CPU and memory utilisation, follow the steps below.
- Employ performance profiling tools that can provide detailed insights into CPU and memory usage within your application code. Tools like New Relic, Datadog, Dynatrace help identify specific code segments or operations that contribute to high resource utilisation.
- If your application runs in a containerized environment or is managed by an orchestration platform, you can utilise the monitoring features provided by these platforms such as Docker, Kubernetes, etc.
6. Error rate
When an application’s performance degrades, it can lead to various errors and failures throughout the application. These errors could manifest as timeouts, connection failures, data inconsistencies, or other issues that impact the user experience.
To track the error rate, follow these steps.
- Set up error tracking and monitoring mechanisms within your application to collect error metrics. Tools like Bugsnag or Rollbar can be used here. These tools help to track errors and exceptions in an application and provide detailed reports on the error rate.
- Regularly review the error logs to identify any patterns or trends related to performance-related errors. Look for error codes or error messages that indicate performance-related issues. Correlate the occurrence of errors with relevant performance metrics such as response time, CPU usage, memory usage, or database query execution time. Look for patterns where increased load or degraded performance coincides with higher error rates.
7. Uptime monitoring
Monitoring the uptime of applications is of utmost importance when it comes to optimising performance. Regularly assessing and tracking the availability and responsiveness of websites, servers, or services is essential for ensuring their reliability.
To effectively monitor uptime, it is advisable to utilise dedicated uptime monitoring tools or services. These specialised tools, such as Pingdom, UptimeRobot, StatusCake, and Freshping, continuously check the availability and responsiveness of your application. By employing such tools, you can promptly receive notifications if any performance-related issues arise that could potentially lead to downtime.
By proactively monitoring uptime and being promptly notified of performance-related problems, you can take swift action to address the issues and minimise any negative impact on the availability and reliability of your application. This allows you to optimise performance and ensure a seamless user experience.
What are the base metrics to understand if the application is performing good or bad?
While validating the performance, it is significant to understand the base metrics so you can evaluate the standard of your application. Here are the base metrics that are crucial in determining whether an application is performing well or poorly.
- A good response time is generally considered to be less than a second and is acceptable up to 3 seconds. This varies depending on the type of application and its intended use. If the response time exceeds this threshold, users may become frustrated and abandon the application, leading to poor user experience.
- A high throughput rate is desirable, as it indicates that the application can handle a large number of requests without slowing down or crashing.
- A low error rate is desirable for any application, as errors can result in lost revenue, lost users, and damage to the company’s reputation.
- A good uptime is generally considered to be 99.9% or higher. If an application is down or unavailable, users cannot access it, resulting in a poor user experience and lost revenue.
- If memory utilisation or CPU utilisation exceeds a certain threshold, it can cause the application to become slow or unresponsive. The threshold limit is generally considered to be 50-60%, and spikes should be addressed immediately.
- The desired level of concurrency depends on the requirements of the application and the user experience it is designed to provide. For example, a social media platform may need to handle a large number of concurrent users, while an internal tool may only need to handle a few.
Your next actions
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can effectively measure and optimise your application’s performance. A high-performing web application is essential for delivering a seamless user experience, minimising costs, and enhancing your business’s reputation. Neglecting this crucial aspect can lead to significant performance issues.
To further improve your application’s performance, we recommend reading our article on How to Improve the Performance of Your Ruby on Rails Application. It provides valuable insights and guidance for taking the next steps in your performance optimization journey. Remember, this is an ongoing process, and we encourage you to continue making improvements to enhance your application’s performance.
Should you require assistance or consultation on your application’s performance or need support in validating and improving its performance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us .We’re here to help you achieve optimal performance and success.