What Is Response Time Testing? (With Different Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When customers submit a request to a website or place an online order through an app, they're often hoping to see a fast response to their request. Many businesses implement response time testing methods across all their services and products to determine how efficient they are at fulfilling these requests. Knowing how efficient a company's systems are can help you recommend changes and improvements to better serve clients. In this article, we discuss what response time testing is, discover different types of testing, and explain the steps you can take to measure response times.

What is response time testing?

Response time testing is a way of determining the time required between when a consumer places a request to when the company or software completes the order. There are many areas where someone might implement this response time evaluation process. Companies usually complete response tests on their software, apps, websites, and purchase orders. These tests are an essential part of running an effective organization. The typical response time on a website or application may be only a few seconds. Companies like to keep response times fast to help customers remain satisfied.

Monitoring response times helps businesses to innovate their business strategies and keep their customers happy. It's also useful for people who develop websites and apps because it shows them how fast their software is running and if their programs require any improvements. Keeping consumer bases happy is an excellent way to have people return as customers and help you receive excellent reviews.

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Types of response time evaluation

The following are some types of evaluation a company may conduct to test their website's response time:

Requests per second

This method determines how many requests the system can receive and process per second. If there's an overload of requests, it can slow down the system, which leads to wrong replies on the site. Recording requests per second can help developers determine if they have enough server space to accommodate the amount of traffic that their software or website receives.

Average response time

Average response time is a metric that represents the typical time it requires for the system to respond to any requests or queries. If the average number is lower, that means the system is performing more efficiently. A higher average time indicates that the software may respond slowly and the developers might want to troubleshoot the problem. The downside of using an average response time metric is that times of peak traffic create slower responses, which can distort the average time it requires the system to respond.

Peak response time

Measuring peak response time works best when you can do it at the same time as measuring average response time. When you examine the two metrics, they can provide a more complete assessment of how the system is running during a day. Peak response time differs from average response time measurements because it narrows its focus to high traffic times only. Measuring the slowest response times helps to eliminate the outliers from the average response time data.

Data in and out

Developers look at how much information the system is processing with each request. They examine the size of each request and how many responses the system generates to answer the request. Using a ratio is the most common way to express this information. For example, if a server receives 1,000 server requests in an hour and sends 100 responses, then the server is functioning at a 10:1 ratio. This ratio can demonstrate to developers that they may want to increase the capacity on their servers so that they can send out more responses at a faster pace.

Error rate

This is a metric that looks at requests that don't receive any response from the system. This can happen for several reasons, like the request failing to communicate with the server. These types of failures typically happen during high traffic periods on the server. Developers can look at error rates to help determine if they may want to perform server maintenance or complete improvements to help increase the server capacity.

Hardware power

There's a toll that processing requests and responses take on the hardware that executes the evaluations. Monitoring the hardware and whether it's able to fulfil the demands is a great way to maintain an effective system. When measuring the hardware, you can examine how much RAM the system uses vs. how much is available, or if the hardware has the correct memory storage and processors to run the system properly. If the system is underperforming, completing a maintenance check on the hardware can help you discover if you may want to upgrade some of the system pieces.

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Maximum response time

A normal system has an average response time of 0.1 seconds. This is the preferred response time for most systems. If the system exceeds a response time of six seconds, the user may likely leave the website or software and try a different system. Performing tests on your system's maximum response time can help with consumer retention and creating an effective website, app, or software.

How to measure response times

Here's a list of steps you can take to measure system response times:

1. Create your criteria

Before you can begin a response time test, it's important to determine the purpose of this process. You can determine if you're looking to identify error rates, hardware problems, or if you're just checking to see how efficiently the system is performing. Having a defined set of parameters can help to guide the tests and make it easier to analyze the results when the tests are complete. By having specific criteria, you can better assess any issues with your website, app, or software.

2. Perform the initial response test

After determining your criteria, you can perform the initial response test. You may monitor and record all data that comes from the test, as this can help influence any decisions regarding improving the system or performing basic maintenance. The initial test can provide you with a baseline of how the server is running. Performing the first test during a time when the system is receiving an average amount of requests can give you an accurate picture of how the system responds under normal stressors.

3. Re-test at different times of day

It's beneficial to perform tests at different times of day after the first assessment. Testing the system during high traffic and low traffic times can help to deliver a more complete picture of how a product is operating. With the initial test as a baseline, you can assess more easily how the system responds during peak hours and times of low interaction. Having multiple rounds of data can deliver more conclusive results.

4. Analyze results

After all the testing is complete, compiling and assessing the data is an important step as it allows for an easier time when analyzing it and drawing conclusions. When analyzing, you can look for any patterns that occur when the system is the most responsive and how that differs from when it's the least responsive. Make assessments based on the criteria you established so that you can determine the health of your system.

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5. Identify any problems and develop solutions

During your analysis, you may have discovered some problems with the system's response times. Identifying the problems and developing actionable solutions can help improve the customer experience when using the company's services. For example, the system can be slow when sending responses, even during times of low traffic, and you identify that it's a hardware issue concerning the amount of RAM of the system. Increasing the hardware's RAM capacity is a relatively simple solution that you can implement quickly.

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6. Re-test after implementing solutions

Once you have fixed the problems that you discovered by the response time tests, it's beneficial to run another round of tests. Keep the same parameters and run the tests simultaneously as the original round of testing. This can help ensure that you fixed the problems that you originally identified and that there aren't more issues currently affecting the system. Completing a second round of tests after implementing solutions can make sure that the system is running efficiently and serving the clients well.

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