Leading UK recruitment web site load tests new Windows servers ahead of global launch and significant infrastructure investment

reed.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading recruitment web sites, has been using SciVisum’s portfolio of web testing services to robustly trial web site performance on Microsoft’s Windows Servers 2008. The server upgrade is a key component of an infrastructure investment programme, designed to support growth in 2008.

Extensive load testing of the new operating system using a beta site allowed the company to identify and eliminate architecture-related performance issues before they could impact job seekers.

Launched in February 1995, reed.co.uk is one of the largest commercial jobsites in the UK. In January 2008 the portal attracted 1.7 million unique users and generated 1.2 million job applications – an average of almost 40,000 a day.

In the last six months reed.co.uk has made significant enhancements to the functionality of its website and the infrastructure that supports it. In September 2007 the company began migrating its systems to a new datacentre, and in November the website was upgraded to enable recruiters to search the registered applicant database.

In order to grow its business-to-business division reed.co.uk introduced paid-for job ads, allowing companies to prioritise advertisements on the web site in exchange for a fee. Throughout this time, web testing was a critical part of the process, enabling the company to monitor site performance, prior, during, and after any changes to the system, while permitting a smooth transition.

“The online recruitment industry is so competitive that users don’t just expect world class online service, they demand it. Over the last few months we’ve invested significantly in new hardware, software and website functionality to provide the best possible service to job seekers and recruiting organisations,” said Mark Ridley, Technology Director, reed.co.uk. “The decision to test and use a brand new operating system before it is even launched is testimony to our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs. The fact that we are able to deploy brand new technologies and overhaul key parts of our system is because of the confidence that SciVisum’s comprehensive testing gives us.”

Microsoft’s Windows Servers 2008 have been deployed to help the company achieve ambitious growth targets. To ensure that the new hardware could stand up to the massive demand from users, reed.co.uk ran a beta site on the new servers in parallel to the existing site running on the old servers. Using SciVisum’s suite of testing applications, the beta site was load tested in line with concurrent user numbers; and after switching the live site to Server 2008, actual user journeys were tested 24/7 at an interval of five minutes.

SciVisum’s comprehensive testing of the beta sites break points revealed an issue with the architecture was making the site run at a speed that did not meet reed.co.uk’s stringent performance criteria. SciVisum’s testing consistently identified the error, enabling reed.co.uk’s engineers to locate the source of the problem and fix it during the testing.

Deri Jones, CEO, SciVisum said: “When your web site is in effect your business, you can’t afford to take any risks with it, and that’s where testing can make a real difference. So many companies have a suicidal inclination, where they don’t look before they leap. Make no mistake, if you’re making significant changes to your web site without investigating them fully, you’re gambling not just with your income, but with your reputation too. Would you use a company that had a very slow or unreliable web site? Nor would most consumers. reed.co.uk is a best practice example of how changes that will deliver a real benefit to your sites users can, and should be, handled.”

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About SciVisum
SciVisum is a UK based web site testing specialist, helping clients to reduce lost sales online by identifying where and when user experience suffers.

The services provide vital data not available by web-analytics or other web monitoring:

* when invisible errors impact users but are invisible to the in-house teams
* when wrong or missing page content forces users to abandon their purchase journeys
* what % of marketing campaign traffic is lost due to under-capacity in one or more vital steps such as 'add to basket' or 'checkout' pages.

The company's services measure the performance and functionality of client's business-critical on-line systems. Using the multi-page User Journeys approach to measurement, SciVisum’s metrics provide real time KPIs and act as a common language between the business and marketing teams who work daily with journey concepts of Add-to-Basket, Checkout, Register, pay-online, login and etc; and the web technical teams who need precise input as to which step of which journey is under-performing, when and how, in order for them to most effectively apply technical resources to close the problem gaps.

Through SciVisum's testing and recommendations, clients are able to substantially increase visitor rates and customer satisfaction levels by achieving gains in key journey delivery times, increasing ability to handle peak load levels, and reducing sporadic but user-numbing error rates of 1 to 5% that most sites un-wittingly force on their users.

Clients come from a wide range of sectors and include Tesco, Boden, T-Mobile, Virgin Retail, Shell, Jessops, Gold Medal Travel, Ann Summers, William Hills, Ocado Premium Bonds, Scottish & Southern Energy, BDO Stoy Hayward, National Savings and Investment Bank and uSwitch.

Test deliverables include:
SV-Monitor:
24/7 measurement of customer experience by User Journey
SV-Load:
Load testing /Stress testing of User Journeys
SV-Access:
Accessibility testing to the WAI guidelines
SV-Function: Functionality & troubleshooting audits and consultancy on web performance

Published on: 12:00AM on 27th March 2008