More and more every day, it’s a data-driven business world. Whether it’s to find the consumers most likely to buy a product right now, or to make sure an online experience is fast and flawless, data is the key to maximizing results. But digesting huge data troves and parsing the results into usable form is an ominous task at best. That’s where data visualization comes in.
Thanks to APIs, data from various sources can be pulled together and presented in whatever form it’s needed, whether it’s to correlate multiple data sources or to prepare a compelling management presentation. You can have Google Analytics next to Keynote Transaction Perspective next to Facebook Page Likes, or whatever data you need and are able to access via an API. One startup that’s targeting the need for data visualization is Leftronic, which is on a mission to make it simple to create impressive data dashboards.
Given the need to be agile and responsive, no matter what business you’re in, usability is key factor for any kind of data visualization process. It can’t be a major IT project anytime a VP requests a particular data mash-up
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A study from Comscore revealed that 4 out of 5 of the US’s ~86 million smartphone users accessed retail content on their smartphone during July 2012.
Many smartphone users check pricing and deals on their phones even while visiting a physical store. If your site is fast and responsive, you could win new customers or solidify relationships with current users. While mobile shoppers love apps, mobile web enables them to search new sites quickly and efficiently during sales.
Assuming you have a mobile-friendly site, here are few questions to ask to ensure a smooth holiday shopping experience:
1. What is weighing down your site?
2. Are you taking advantage of holiday opportunities?
3. Do you load test and monitor the site regularly?
4. The final question remains: Is your mobile site ready for the holidays?
Few days back the launch of the iPhone 5 followed a similar pattern to Apple’s other previous product launches. And while Apple seems to be training the media to certain launch event expectations, it also seems to be training its Apple Store customers to expect closed doors at its e-commerce website.
Just as with the last major product launch (remember the “new” iPad?), the Apple Store was taken offline immediately preceding, and for some time after the media event. In this instance, for 7 hours. Keynote measurements of the Apple Store, a member of the Top Retailers (US) performance index, show the outage and captured the state of the website before, during and after.
A 7 hour outage for any online retailer is huge, and Apple’s outages appear to be intentional. The closing of the Apple Store in this instance raises interesting questions about managing customer expectations and online experience. Are launch event outages a defensive practice, or an intentional component of the overall launch experience? Is it worth handling the spike of non-buying visitors (pre-sales won’t be available until a couple days later) during the launch event, when most ‘lookey-Lous’ will likely get their fix through the subsequent media tsunami? At what point does opacity change from creating a sense of mystery to confusion?
The overall performance and availability of the Apple store is quite high, with it consistently ranking above the Index average for online retailers. Indeed, the past 6 weeks reveal improvement in Total User Experience Time and solid availability:
Apple appears to take Web performance seriously. Launch events such as today’s are consistenly ochestrated to careful detail. So while most online retailers strive for 5 nines, is there something to be learned from Apple? Could an intentional full outage (outside of planned maintenance/change) be a viable e-commerce strategy in certain circumstances? If so, when?
Article Source: http://www.keynote.com
Couple of weeks ago at Velocity 2012, we had the pleasure of connecting with lots of old friends, and thousands of new ones.
One of the hot topics of conversation around our booth was our new RESTful API. The beauty of any modern API is the ease with which you can take a service and adapt it to solve very unique problems. The Keynote API is currently being used by customers to quickly and easily integrate their Keynote data with dashboard applications and other monitoring tool streams to do some pretty interesting stuff. We recently spoke with Velocity attendee Christian Jorgensen about his use of Keynote API. Christian is responsible for ensuring high availability for a portfolio of very large websites and services. The work he’s doing in monitoring and alerting is cutting-edge.
Read the Q&A Article on API
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.
In addition to evaluating customer experience on a subjective level, the Keynote research assessed seven factors related to the site’s service levels:
- High-Speed Response
- Dial-up Response
- Response Time Consistency
- Geographic Uniformity
- Load Handling
- Outage Hours
Three Bottlenecks That Block Traffic
Too many technical elements on a page: From small non-visual images to java scripts to unnecessary encryption, too many individual elements on a page can stifle performance
Java overload: The ubiquitous coding language is an important tool for developers, but every Java script can act like a tiny speed bump for browsers.
Proliferation of third-party tags: The rising number of third-party tags – DoubleClick ads and calls to third-party analytics services – can also hinder performance.
Mobile internet is another high-potential area for this market. Although the ability to book a car wirelessly has been around since about 2000, it’s still very much gaining traction. Mobile, of course, presents a whole new set of challenges for rental companies in terms of maintaining a positive user experience. Operating on a tiny screen will demand even more technical efficiency and optimization. But the opportunity is a great one, particularly for capturing busy business travelers on the go.
One is that users are much less tenacious, much less tolerant of poor performance. Five, six years ago there was still the sense of novelty. Today, though, they’re using the Internet for very critical things, critical utility, be that trading stocks or looking at bank accounts or making purchases.
Delivering complex functionality in a manner that satisfies high user expectations requires a tremendous infrastructure, which in itself exponentially multiplies the opportunity for slow performance or outright failures. To deliver a customized “my” page on a site such as Yahoo! or Google or one of the news portals, for example, may require hundreds of servers. And running a search-and-transaction site such as eBay takes a huge amount of processing horsepower.
Whether the objective is to reduce abandonment rates, to increase self service and reduce call center loads (and costs), to increase average sales or repeat purchases, performance monitoring is critical to acquiring the data needed to formulate sound Web strategies and tactics. Web performance is the common denominator underneath every Web site metric and is fundamental to achieving any Web site goal.
Things can and do go wrong at any step of the way — in the site’s own internal network, over the Internet backbone, across the last mile of the local ISP, or on the user’s desktop. Site operators employ a number of strategies to monitor this complex path and pinpoint the many problems that inevitably come up.
The leveraging of personal data, both for marketing and personalization, is arguably a major factor in the evolution of the online experience as we know it today. But the exploding scale of its collection and use – and increasing consumer awareness of the practice – has launched a debate about how best to collect and use data to enhance the Web experience with performance while protecting the privacy rights of consumers.
Scores of companies are in the online data business. Some collect data from individuals’ Web browsers and offline sources like auto registration and real estate records. Others aggregate and analyze the data – sometimes down to semantic analysis of what a user writes in comments or social media updates. Still others package it and offer it for auction on online exchanges to still other companies that place online ads, or to websites themselves, who use it to tailor content, offers, and even pricing based on the profile of the person sitting on the other side of the browser.
The moment a consumer puts an item in a shopping cart, makes a bid on an auction site, or takes any number of innocuous actions, that information is put up for sale – virtually instantly – often for just fractions of a penny. (It adds up, quickly, though; targeted advertising commands a 100+ percent premium over non-targeted ads.
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.
Today, your customers are perusing your merchandise and buying from your mobile and Web sites using a vast array of devices, including desktop PCs, smartphones, cell phones, wireless laptops, and tablet computers from wherever they’re located, anytime.
This new “Everywhere Web” is a place where customer expectations are high, and if you want to prosper, you certainly want to ensure that your web and mobile quality always deliver for all of your customers, with no excuses. Don’t disappoint them with an online experience that is slow or that doesn’t serve them. If your sites don’t sell to them when they want to buy from you, those customers may not come back.
To win them over and drive sales, your company needs to stay on top of all the new devices that your customers are using to find you online. That means ensuring that your site performance is ready to meet the needs of all of that device diversity. Making it even more complex are new electronic devices such as tablet PCs and iPads that blur the lines between traditional desktop computing and the mobile world.
It may seem like a lot to worry about, but by following a performance monitoring strategy that keeps up with new devices and Web services accessed by these devices, you can turn this challenge into a competitive strength for your business.
The place to start is with benchmarks to establish online performance goals for all your online sites that can then be monitored, measured and improved over time. The needs of broadband and mobile users are quite different, so you should be benchmarking both types. Broadband sites include far more graphics and audio-hungry features, because there is speed to spare to deliver them. Mobile sites are usually pared down to get out just the basic information to customers, while cutting out the flashy extras due to mobile bandwidth and screen size limitations.