Improve eCommerce performance rates by going behind the scenes

April 14, 2014 Written by NetSphere Category: Tech Tools
Improve eCommerce performance rates by going behind the scenes

Kind of like the old geezer behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, back-end applications on an eCommerce website help to drive the magic happening on the front-end. So like Dorothy and her entourage, eCommerce website owners must pay attention to what’s happening behind the scenes.

That’s because, for front-end applications to work, they must make requests to back-end applications, like a database, to pull all of the dynamic content together for a page to be rendered at the client end. This can include product images, product descriptions, pricing and more.

When there’s a potential issue happening behind the scenes, performance tools are a great method for bringing them to light. More often than not, performance tools will reveal issues on the back-end that are the result of poor database maintenance or a database not properly configured or tuned for the workload at hand.   

In addition to running performance tests, the telltale signs of database degradation include:

  • User requests that are sluggish when a database is under “heavy transaction loads.”
  • A database that is slowly degrading in performance, not because of a heavy load, but because not enough memory or CPU resources have been allocated to it.

From a technical perspective, there are several methods to employ to improve performance rates. To determine if a database has performance degradation, eCommerce website owners will need access to a database administrator to help diagnose problems.

First and foremost, the database administrator will need to:

  • Review the error and log files for the database and application server and then look for errors that indicate a particular resource has reached its threshold.
  • Search for specific keywords or phrases like “maximum number of threads or connections has been reached” or “deadlock condition detected.”
  • Schedule database maintenance on a consistent basis to purge outdated data. It’s not uncommon for a database to become slow and bloated with months or years of stale data, like expired guest users, stale orders and expired coupons/promotions.
  • Ensure the database has been compacted, reorganized and tuned. If these tasks aren’t carried out for some time, a database becomes fragmented and performance degradation occurs, resulting in slow response times to user inquiries or HTTP resource requests.

With the help of a database manager, the overarching solution to back-end issues can be a simple one – schedule periodic maintenance to keep the database lean, tables and indexes compact, and response times fast.

So just as Dorothy and her crew learned a lot about themselves along their journey, eCommerce website owners are constantly learning more about the ins and outs of their sites and how customers prefer to interact with them. And because performance and page load times count for so much of a user experience, it’s essential to pay attention to what’s happening behind the scenes. 

To get assistance identifying back-end issues related to database maintenance, feel free to reach out to the team at NetSphere Strategies. We have experience optimizing page load times and in turn, optimizing the user experience.  

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Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.