Website performance monitoring is an evolving paradigm primarily because website performance is synonymous with business. It goes beyond simple measurement of web services and the features’ ability to respond efficiently to end-users. Plus, the demand of the market―underlying technologies, use cases, issues, and risks― fuels its growth.
Certain factors lead to website or web service poor performance. First, there are issues with files; size and quantity. Second, the system architecture. Third, the user variables such as geographical location, device type, browser type, and operating system. Above all, the slow connection speed is a strong contingent on poor end-user experience.
These factors continue to evolve over time. With the dynamic distributed content characteristics of most websites, it is apparent that performance issues can occur at any point. Hence, it is vital to learn how to monitor website performance.
Types of Web Performance Monitoring
The basic concept of web performance monitoring is to gather data to improve the service speed of your website. This data ultimately helps increase user’s satisfaction. As a result, it produces higher user retention while reducing bounce rates.
As mentioned, website performance monitoring is an evolving field. It always correlates with the type of services offered. An organization has a wide array of free and affordable application monitoring tools to choose from.
Different solutions offer different levels of monitoring granularity, such as active and passive monitoring. Just like Retrace from Stackify, it can monitor everything along with its active App Monitoring and passive Real User Monitoring approaches.
Synthetic Performance Monitoring
Businesses use synthetic performance monitoring as an “active” approach. It leverages computer applications that conduct routine performance audits. Performance monitoring and testing don’t require user interaction.
Synthetic performance monitoring tools send a request to the website or web app at a predetermined time. These are called checkpoints that provide insights such as response time measurement and third-party plugins monitoring.
Generally, these tools generate reports and alerts based on the site’s performance during performance checking.
One tool for synthetic performance monitoring is Netreo’s Web Application Response Time (WebART). WebART check monitors the availability and performance of a single, web-based application. These checks are useful for monitoring the efficiency and usability of commonly trafficked paths that might be taken by that application’s users.
A WebART check loads its specified web application (typically an html web page) and then follows a sequence of steps to “use” that application in a way representative of a typical user. WebART checks monitors the availability of your web applications and provides performance insights into the user experience for those applications.
Synthetic checks are steps in the simulated path of a user. WebART synthetic checks are added and configured to simulate a given path that an end-user might take through your application. This path is then monitored for performance, measuring such aspects as functionality, availability and response time.
Basic Web Performance Monitoring
A business may choose from basic to advanced performance monitoring tools based on its needs. For example, a brochure site with non-critical pages may choose the most basic form. These tools primarily focus on HTTP and HTTPS monitoring or uptime monitoring.
Since it’s just basic monitoring, it doesn’t process internal configurations. For instance, basic website monitoring doesn’t include speed issues related to image download. It means that it will not notify nor record for issues with image file sizes and others.
However, basic website performance indicators identify some back-end problems, like uptime tracking and other performance trends. Although it is not as efficient compared to advanced tools.
Mid-Level Web Performance Monitoring
Basic web monitoring is a bit uncertain. Hence, providers offer mid-level performance monitoring tools. With this type, website owners can use a browser, like Google Chrome, to initiate requests, execute scripts, navigate features, and load the page.
These activities serve to mimic actual user-experience, and the browser used should load what the users’ expectations. It provides a more accurate account of the website’s response and performance. However, it doesn’t give the element-by-element performance report of advanced performance monitoring.
Advanced Web Performance Monitoring
If you’re looking for the most granular performance results, then choose advanced web performance monitoring tools. It combines the features of synthetic performance monitoring witn the concept of mid-level monitoring where a browser initiates requests.
This type of monitoring resolves TCP connections and performs HTTPS handshake. It sends, waits, and receives loading time for each element on the website’s page. Results are often displayed in a waterfall chart to help developers and owners monitor the page load progression.
Most importantly, developers discover system bottlenecks, unresponsive features, failing content, slow third-party plugins, and infrastructure issues. Some solutions can generate error snapshots that provide ease during troubleshooting.
Top Website Performance Indicators
Since you already know what type of monitoring tool suits your website, the next thing to consider is the right performance indicators for your website. It is a daunting task as looking for the “right” metrics is overwhelming.
However, the right metric always depends on your website and the type of business. The best practice is to categorize issues according to their severity. For instance, a business owner doesn’t want to receive a flood of warnings about broken links or slight changes in loading speed. Leave these types of alerts to the development team as it might block critical issues such as infrastructure downtime.
Here are ten website performance indicators that every website owner should monitor.
Online presence is no longer an option as most businesses rely heavily on their website. If a website is down for a few minutes or has a slow-loading page beyond the recommended time, it directly affects the revenue. Additionally, an inaccessible website disrupts business processes and workflows. As a result, the extended downtime and how frequent it occurs can ruin the reputation of your whole company.
But we’re not here to tackle the downtime. Instead, let’s talk about Uptime. Uptime monitoring is the critical performance indicator of a website. As a website owner, you should strive for the “five nines.” It means that your website must have a 99.999% uptime. Further, it is a best practice to check on your website’s uptime from different locations.
Time to First Byte (TTFB)
Time to first byte (TTFB) measures the responsiveness of a server or other network resources. It measures the time from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page received by the client’s browser.
How is a performance indicator relevant? The answer is simple. Most online users are impatient. According to this article from Neil Patel, a site only has three seconds to load before losing 40 percent of its visitors. So, if your page doesn’t load fast, online visitors will most likely leave even if you have great content.
The best way to leverage this performance indicator is by sending requests from different locations. Check how fast your web server responds during on- and off-peak hours.
The TTFB is measured within these three actions:
- Sending a request to the server
- Processing and generating the response
- Sending the response back to the client
Full-page Load Time
Typically, a website visitor only interacts with your page if it has fully loaded. Meaning all its attributes from buttons, images, and videos are in place. It is how full-page load time works. Therefore, full-page load time is when it takes to download the source code of a specific page.
So, how do you measure full-page load time? You can utilize Application Performance Monitoring(APM) solutions to help you with this indicator. It facilitates tracing of your source code and provides insights about your website speed.
Remember that users favor fast-loading websites. Let’s take a look at some use cases:
- A company experienced a 1% loss in revenue per 100 millisecond site load delay.
- A business website needs to increase its conversion rate by 1.5%.
- A company wants to reduce its load time to improve conversions.
You can solve these scenarios using performance monitoring tools with centralized logging and real-user monitoring.
Still not convinced? How about expanding our discussion not just with user experience but with organic search rankings. Google has included page speed, content depth, and mobile-friendliness as part of the algorithm’s ranking factors.
Also, regardless of the page size and the scanning interval, full-page monitoring creates a lot of bandwidth traffic. Thus, the easy way to achieve a fast full-page loading time is to reduce image size.
Hyperlinks constitute the entire web. Thus, it is inevitable to have broken links. A website with links that leads to a 404 error is a simple problem but could be disastrous. In a nutshell, neither your website users nor search engines, like Google, like broken links.
Maybe you just misspelled the destination URL, or the linked page doesn’t exist anymore? The bottom line is that broken links are bad for business.
Perform regular maintenance and checking for broken links. To help you out, always remember these when dealing with broken links:
- Broken links frustrate your visitors and may damage your reputation.
- It gives the impression that you don’t perform “regular housekeeping.”
- They could affect your conversion rate.
- Broken links hinder your page ranking optimization.
The user journey is another important performance indicator as it helps you with continuous improvement. It determines if you have the correct workflow. An efficient workflow ensures that your users have a great user experience.
Let’s have some use cases.
A properly working ordering process is vital for e-commerce websites. Ensure that your users navigate and work around the entire process seamlessly. Similarly, the website login for both customers or registered users is another integral process that should be error-free. Recurring login problems such as multiple login problems frustrate users and prevent customers from purchasing.
Lastly, for lead generation websites, you should check if your newsletter sign-up works properly. A workflow error during the subscription process leads to a potential loss of customers.
Why does database performance matter? Most websites contain dynamic content pulled from a database. It is another vital web performance indicator to ensure a smooth-running website.
In most cases, a very slow responding website has a poor-performing database. Therefore, you should monitor the response time for your database queries. Look for queries that are taking the most time and perform optimization.
It is a daunting task, but you can stary ahead with APM like Retrace as you can monitor the overall performance of your database. It is a feature-rich APM that helps you find out if there’s a bottleneck. If the results of your queries contain error messages or return results that are outside of the expected range, Retrace provides alerts.
With the advent of fast Internet, the website’s speed and availability from different parts of the world shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Geographic performance is an indicator that ensures customers seamless accessibility of your service regardless of the location.
It is critical for globally active companies or those that cater to clients worldwide. Most companies build infrastructure plans by securing the nearest server locations. It is vital to increase website speed.
Most companies leverage their data analytics to determine the status of their geographic performance. Monitoring your geographic performance is vital, and the top priority is choosing the locations to focus on. You can use your data analytics to monitor the performance of a specific location or global performance.
Web Server’s Hardware
Free disk space monitoring is important in website operation. There are several errors brought by less disk space. It includes log files, database entries, photos, and video files that may consume a significant amount of disk space.
As a result, lesser disk space and a high CPU load result in website failure. High CPU load means many active processes overwhelm your CPU and slow down the whole server. In working with websites, there are several causes of high CPU utilization. One example is that a new feature might be responsible for the increase in traffic.
Regular CPU usage monitoring prevents many web server failures. You should consider upgrading your hardware if you experience a high CPU over a long period. Additionally, together with CPU monitoring, keep an eye on memory usage as well.
Website traffic is an important performance indicator for the success of your online presence. This is a way to test and assess the loads that your website can withstand. When you gain traction with your online traffic, the primary considerations should be to upgrade your web servers. Don’t be complacent if your servers can handle website traffic most of the time. Consider what will happen if many people visit your site at the same time.
On the other hand, if the number of website visitors goes down, there might be a technical problem or your content is not engaging enough.
The last indicator is the website quality. You can have all the technical performance indicators, but you should keep an eye on your website quality. The website quality audit is a manual process and must be done regularly.
Consider the following questions in your website quality audit:
- Is the website UI appropriate and appealing?
- Does each page have a clear purpose?
- Is the text well-structured and readable?
- Is the copywriting style appropriate for the target audience?
- Does it provide valuable information to users and visitors?
Web performance monitoring is made easy with a simple website review for spelling errors, grammar, and outdated content can make a difference.
With the stiff competition, you need to stay ahead of the game. Thus, it is vital to safeguard your online reputation. Conduct regular web performance monitoring on your web assets to avoid the costly loss of site visitors.
But this is only possible if you align with the needs of your users. Indeed, knowing the types of monitoring and the different web performance indicators will help you step up. However, using the right tools let you lay the foundation for a high-quality website. It is where Stackify came into play. Its products, Retrace and Prefix are excellent monitoring solutions that catch performance issues before they happen.