Is Your Website Ready for Cyber Monday?

Written by Tammy Durden

Sponsored* Post by

Written by Glenn Lee

A fair number of people misunderstand the significance of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” These two contemporary retail holidays are almost always the busiest shopping days of the year become their own self-fulfilling prophecies when it comes to both sales and retailer attention. 

The ‘Black’ in Black Friday

The “Black” in Black Friday refers to the accounting euphemism for achieving enough sales to put a company’s revenues “in the black” for the year. Cyber Monday was nominated as the e-commerce equivalent. It’s clear these two terms have steadily become white noise more than anything else, but they’re still effective, and that means they will attract audiences and buyers who expect to find what they are looking for on your site this holiday season. 

Cyber Monday’s Influence

Since Cyber Monday is an annual event, your site isn’t going to get a second chance to capitalize on revenue if your customers’ experience doesn’t meet their expectations.  If your site stumbles on the first day of the holiday shopping season, it could have a dramatic effect on for the rest of the year.  It’s hard enough to persuade customers to show up on your site in the first place. Getting them to come back a second time after a bad experience is nearly impossible – and fantastically expensive.  You’re looking at reduced revenues and margins even in the best of circumstances.

Since this is not likely to be your desired outcome, you’re going to want to be sure your site is ready to face the holiday, and you’re going to want to be assured you don’t miss out on any sales because of easily remedied glitches within your site and applications. There are many ways a website can fail. Let’s look at a couple of them and see if it’s possible to give yourself some peace of mind. 

Harden Your Client-Side Code

Gone are the bad old days of manual client-side testing. Not only is clicking your site page by page and link by link an incredible waste of time, it rarely produces actionable results. Think about it. If you’re testing your site and you encounter a problem, you’re are likely to halt testing and fix the problem right away. What does that do to your testing? Here are a couple of important clues. 

First, changing the site during a test invalidates everything you’ve done up to that point, so you take potentially wasted time and turn it into guaranteed wasted time with a single act. Secondly, altering your site’s code without a plan or valid unit test creates the likelihood of introducing anomalies and bugs in your shopping cart that might remain hidden long after your testing is complete. This is especially true when dealing with web development scripting languages that are difficult to debug in even the most favorable conditions. 

You might fix the apparent problem, but unknowingly create two or three hidden issues that may not affect your business until it’s too late. 

The more efficient method to ensure your site and applications are running properly is to use a browser automation tool, like EveryStep Web Recorder. The tool allows you to record scripts that emulate the critical paths your customers take to ensure the core functions of your e-commerce infrastructure are sound.  Those scripts can then be used to perform load and stress tests, as well as ongoing monitoring, alerting you if errors occur. These tests utilize a global network of testing locations, giving you the ability to generate user traffic from around the world.

Harden Your Server-Side Code

While the scripting and user-facing portions of your site are best tested with browser automation tools, your server-side code is more likely to respond well to load testing. Websites live or die based on their chosen server structures and the capacities of their networks, RAM, CPU speed, and throughput. Fortunately, these characteristics are all easily quantified and tested through a load testing process and can be quite easily debugged and logged. 

The results of load testing will produce information telling you if your server is memory-bound or CPU-bound. It will also show you whether your network can perform adequate throughput based on your historical usage patterns. It may even highlight potential or real errors in your client-side code. Developers must always remember that web-based programming is asynchronous, meaning that what is happening on the client is almost never synchronized with what is happening on the server. At certain points during a transaction, everything is “settled up” so to speak, and for a moment or two, the two tiers are synchronized. However, by and large, client, middleware, and database are independent.

Some load testing solutions are best constructed on site with the testing company, where their experts can manage the hardware. Others can be executed remotely through an on-demand system that gives your site the flexibility to do spot-checks, schedule different kinds of tests with varying shapes of traffic and data loads, and to monitor configurations for different demand levels. While it isn’t always as straightforward as client testing, the enhanced detail level will give you a choice of perspectives depending on the type of business and what your customers expect. 

Load testing is one of the most effective ways to dig far enough down to find potential errors. While it isn’t possible to coordinate client and server testing, it is possible to compare the results and to see if one tier might be causing problems on another level. If that is true, and you can correct such errors before a high traffic event like Cyber Monday, you may have just paid for your testing program several times over. 

Customer Experience = Customer’s Trust

Customers respond well to a good experience. They respond even better to a merchant they can trust. In today’s economic climate, especially on the web, trust is golden. It gives you a context for positive customer relationships, it encourages multiple purchases, and it puts your site at the top of the priority list when it comes to big events like the holiday shopping season. Preserving that trust must be the absolute top priority for any retailer, especially one that operates on the web. Online shopping is a personal experience, and you can’t take risks when your site must do its job. 

Load testing and client-side browser automation testing are two of the best ways you can establish trust with your customers. Both give you a way to fix problems long before they get anywhere near your customers. Your customers expect your site to work, and more importantly, they expect your site to protect their financial data and make certain their purchases arrive on time and make their families happy. Do those things well, and you will be in a fine position to grow your business and achieve the kind of success you want.


Thank You to Glenn Lee and Dotcom-monitor for their post today.  We appreciate it your contribution.

I have always been transparent with my audience and want you to know this is a sponsored post. As you know I do not promote many products or accept many ‘guest’ blogs unless I believe they will benefit you, our audience, as well.  My loyalty lies with you. So you know if I accept a sponsored or guest blog post it is because I believe the product or service will benefit you, our reader.

*Sponsored post simply means we received some benefit from sharing this with you.

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Until Next Time…

Tammy S. Durden - Tammysoffices
Founder & Chief Virtual Expert

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