The Web was originally intended to help researchers share documents as static pages of linked text formatted in HTML. From there, Web pages quickly evolved to include complex structures of text and graphics, with plug-in programs to play audio and video files or to stream multimedia content.
Web developers supplement the basic browser function of rendering HTML by invoking code (scripts) on the user’s computer (the client).
These scripts can create interface elements such as rollover effects, custom pull-down menus, and other navigation aids. They can also execute UI methods, for example, to validate a user’s input in an HTML form. These script capabilities, while they enhance a user’s interaction with individual Web pages, do not change the fundamental model in which application logic runs on the server and executes between Web pages after the user clicks. This behavior is said to be synchronous, that is, after each click the user waits while the server handles the input and the browser downloads a response page.
In e-commerce, a typical user interaction involves a series of Web pages, which represent steps in a larger process that comprise a Web application
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This is the second part in the ‘Website Monitoring 101’ series in which we are going to move away from the basics of ‘website monitoring’ to start looking at how you utilize this.
A Website that is frequently inaccessible is likely to destroy customer loyalty and lose business. Ensuring that all of the elements of a Website are functioning properly is critical to maximizing your company’s Web investment. A good vendor offers several advantages:
- 24×7 monitoring of all key areas of Website and Web applications
- Quick and accurate notification of problem when it occurs notification
- Web-based real-time reporting of historical data
- Easy setup and immediate results, with no software or hardware to maintain
- Multiple Internet location monitoring for a holistic view of end-to-end connectivity for geographically distributed users
- An accurate view from the end-user perspective
And just in case you’re wondering what are the features of a good website monitoring services to stand as a big player in the industry, I will start to explain in the next section so that you have a better understanding of what is necessary to work with website monitoring services profitably.
In this part, we have moved beyond looking at the ‘advantages’ widely known aspects of successful website monitoring.
1. Load Testing
Website monitoring is the process of testing and verifying that end-users can interact with a Website or Web application from different locations through the day. Website monitoring is used to ensure that sites are live and responding to viewers, to generate trends that show performance over time, and highlight a range of factors that could affect the functionality of a Website. Website monitoring services also help you benchmark your Website against the performance of your competitors to help you determine how well your site is performing.
In next posts, we will expand on the information introduced in this first part by looking at some more advanced ‘website monitoring’ strategies, tactics and ideas.
Unfortunately, this is where many site owners stop. The site goes into production, and from behind the firewall, everything appears to be snappy. There’s no reason users should be anything short of delighted. But unless the site is monitored out on the Web with all third-party content being fed, using a real browser just as a user would, there’s no way to tell that everything is working and that pages are loading in an acceptable timeframe.
Business people love data, and as indicated earlier, the use of tracking tags on Web pages has simply exploded. Not surprisingly, more tags equals more performance management challenges, particularly since multiple vendors are usually involved, presenting multiple opportunities for glitches.
Multi-sourced content is here to stay — businesses need it, and users want the end result. Content can be tamed and made to perform well by consistently, continuously following these best practices:
- Be sure your site is architected properly so that third-party content will have minimal impact on page load times — four seconds is the magic number, beyond with users abandon your site in droves.
- Scrutinize every third-party component to be sure it’s absolutely necessary; pare down the elements to only those needed to satisfy your site’s business and revenue objectives.
- Monitor the performance of each page component continuously, from the field with real browsers just as users would experience your site; when web performance issues come up, invoke your SLAs, negotiate a fix with the vendor, or lose the problem component.
- Practice good site hygiene — clean up unused tags on a regular basis.
Operations teams have long used this information to tune their websites and correct web performance issues. But collaborating with developers on problems impacting user experience was more difficult.
Now operations teams can monitor website, measure, and parse page performance in a way that offers a far more telling picture of user experience–information that’s both actionable to developers, and of concern to business owners.
To give business owners this insight, Keynote in Transaction Perspective 11 leverages Navigation Timing to measure distinct phases of User Experience:
Time to First Paint: When the user sees something happening on the screen; the site has begun to render in response to their request. This critical first step tells the user that the site is responding to their action.
Time to Full Screen: When most users would perceive their browser space is filled above the fold; rendering may still be happening out of sight, but from the user’s perspective, they’re looking at a full page.
User Experience Time: The total elapsed time the page took to complete. The browser is done with the page and is now waiting for and responding to additional user input. This is analogous to the standard page load time or user time; it can also be used to measure a complete multi-page transaction.
Slow page loads make for a bad user experience that can cause visitors to abandon sites. Recent studies suggest that visitors expect a page to load in just two seconds. So ad delivery that slows page performance down, or videos that take forever to stream, have a real financial impact. The site owner potentially loses revenue because they are delivering less traffic to the advertiser. The ad networks take a hit because it lowers the number of eyeballs they are delivering as well. And the advertisers themselves are not getting the exposure they are counting on to market their products or services.
All three parties then — site owner, ad network and advertiser — have a stake in understanding where the performance issues lie. With accurate performance data in hand, site owners can demand that ad networks perform to their minimum standards, or they can switch their sites to competitive networks (after making sure, that is, that their own page construction is optimized for best performance). Ad networks, in turn, can use the data to improve their delivery or to demonstrate to clients that they are delivering as promised. And advertisers can know if their message is getting out, and if it isn’t, they can explore alternate channels for their advertising.
The number of online transactions has increased over the years. Businesses need to take an active role in monitoring online performance of the website and their transaction processes. Website monitoring should include monitoring of transactions right from making a purchase to a simple form download. Even though a web monitoring solution is in place, the task of pinpointing a problem has been quite a challenge since the complexity of online transactions have increased.
The performance of your websites and your transactions mainly depend on a variety of interconnected technologies. These technologies need to be monitored closely and the web monitoring solutions that you use should be capable of pin pointing and identifying problems and also capture the complexity of everyday online transactions.
With respect to website performance, some factors are critical to drive your business smoothly. Simple pointers such as response time could have a high impact on your business. The faster your web pages, the longer users tend to stay on your site.
A website monitoring software is very important for problem identification and detection of early problems. To make sure that our web pages are fast, it needs constant and continual monitoring through the developmental and the testing phase. Problems need to be identified before it affects the end user. It is necessary to measure the response time in the way the end user perceives performance. Website performance monitoring lets you focus more from the end user perspective and helps determine how successful you website will be.
The end to end view of online transactions gives you the most comprehensive user experience ans also an insight into where processes can break down. Multi-protocol transactions that incorporate the most sophisticated web transaction programming like web services, Flash 6.0 plugins, WebDAV, ActiveX, file upload and dynamic data/time support can be realistically measured. Also monitor single pages such as home pages in order to gather performance data.
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