site performance monitoring

Site Performance Monitoring Best Practices

Iryne Somera Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

Anyone who is hosting a website knows that site performance monitoring is not an easy feat. In order to be successful, site performance monitoring requires best practices and website monitoring tools. This article will provide insights into some best practices for website performance monitoring.

Why do you need website monitoring tools? Website monitoring tools provide information on how people engage with your website to see how they navigate from one page to another. Furthermore, it gives insights about errors—both on the website’s front end and back end. 

Choosing the right monitoring tools is essential. However, to maximize its usage, you should understand how your website’s functionalities work and which part of your code drives or fails business actions.

Since monitoring tools equate to costs, a company must be ready to take full advantage of the data your monitoring tool provides. Too often, organizations focus on technologies and fail to implement best practices. For instance, we can take a look at how Crelate empowers recruiters with Retrace

These tools can certainly improve overall website performance, but the challenge is determining and then implementing the best practices for your use case.  

First, let’s discuss what is effective site monitoring. 


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What is effective site monitoring?

You can have all the best monitoring tools in the world, but if you can’t leverage them, they’re useless. Remember – “Your website is your company’s first impression, and a great user experience converts visitors into customers.” So if your website encounters a problem, whether it’s a delay in loading or five minutes of downtime, it reflects negatively on your brand.

Website monitoring doesn’t prevent your website from downtime. Instead, it ensures faster notifications to address website performance problems right away. Bear in mind that constant downtime may result in losing potential clients. Consequently, these performance issues affect your Google search rankings.  

Take a look at the recent Amazon downtime. Amazon lost a $2,646,501 price tag for the 13-minute episode of downtime. Although most websites don’t operate at Amazon’s level, the cost may still be huge. Website monitoring is a tool of the future.  When it comes to downtime, every second counts.

To dig deeper, here are some important features of effective site performance monitoring tools: 

Real-time Notifications

Real-time notifications are the most important monitoring feature in a performance monitoring tool. It provides alerts when anything goes wrong with your website, regardless of time and location. 

System Overview

A site performance monitoring tool should provide a one-glance overview of your website’s performance. It must have a clear and easy-to-use dashboard. The tool should have the capability to provide easy navigation as not to overlook any critical issue.

Data History

Data history is a critical part of site performance monitoring. For instance, a problem related to memory leaks for a Python-based website requires the need for a memory profiler. Website monitoring tools help you dig into past data to get to the root cause. Instead of relying on memory leak symptoms, site performance monitoring tools help you perform a root cause analysis.

Website Optimization

In totality, a site performance monitoring tool can perform web optimization. It should have functions, advanced strategies, and features to improve the performance of your website. It should be capable of understanding user experience and provide insights for driving more traffic and conversions.

Generally, an effective site performance monitoring solution helps you act proactively. That’s why Retrace from Stackify is a perfect performance management solution. It is not just a monitoring tool but a complete solution that diagnoses, improves, and accelerates performance.  

Try your FREE, 14 day Retrace trial today

Let’s take a look at site performance monitoring best practices. 

Best Practices

The first thing to consider in building a website is to have an idea of how your website is supposed to perform. Understand what an acceptable customer journey looks like. Furthermore, determine how many customers your website can handle without experiencing latency. 

Additionally, ensure that your website navigation is helping your business outcome. Users should be consuming the content you want them to have.

All these things are incredibly useful for understanding site performance monitoring. Here are some specifics in dealing with site performance monitoring best practices.

Application Performance Monitoring

Moving deeper into the topic, one of the best practices of site performance monitoring is using Application Performance Monitoring (APM). Businesses can expect deeper insights into the state and performance of both websites and web applications. 

An APM works as a library installed in your codebase and allows deep integration. However, it would depend on the language and website’s features. For example in e-commerce websites, APM provides request and response information, and database-connection information. Plus, it has remote profiling and tracing for slow transactions and other metrics that hinder conversion.

Distributed tracing is one of the best practices you can integrate into your websites. There are free and affordable monitoring tools that provide tracing capabilities using the client libraries and integrating them into your systems.

APMs are not just limited to code tracing. They also provide infrastructure monitoring to give a full view of your website performance. APMs give deep insights, show the flow of function calls, and monitor the network traffic to and from your website.

Netreo has a similar approach to Application Performance. Using a series of “reflectors” around the globe, Netreo gives you a picture of your application’s response time at each of those locations so you can identify potential end-user experience issues.

Error Monitoring

Most APMs are a complete package since they have error monitoring capabilities. Hence, the best approach in dealing with errors is to use one APM solution. Take note that using separate error reporting services may ruin your error reporting. 

Using Retrace for error reporting and alerting gives a single view of non-critical application logs and exceptional events. It is as simple as creating filters and charts to look for logs. It presents logs that have errors and automatically creates alerts for them. 

Log Monitoring

One of the best practices in log monitoring is to make the website’s logs useful. It is possible by logging only actionable events that machines or humans can use. Also, don’t generate logs on normal informational events. You should request logging only when there’s an error or needed for compliance reasons.

APMs, like Retrace, have a tool for collecting these logs in a distributed environment and turning them into a searchable event stream that can be monitored and alerted on. It provides automatic detection of common log formats, can parse formats such as JSON, and index the keys for use in alerting. 

Log monitoring extracts data from hidden log formats with the use of regular expressions or string matching. However, developers can use machine parse-able or standardized formats. Remember, without proper tracing, logs are useless. Also, in dealing with modern web applications, the volume may be too high to parse by hand. As a result, look for APMs that provide both aggregated and individual data for logs, allowing you to find the exact information you need at any time. 

HTTP(s) Checks

Ensure that your website is responding using HTTP and HTTPS checks. Check if your website is using HTTPS. It is a secure protocol for sending or receiving data over the Internet. Websites should use HTTPS as it is additional encryption or authentication between the client and the server.

Content Checks

Content is king, and this is true across the web. A content check can start with simple grammatical checking, broken links, and outdated content audits. Content checking is often a manual process that ensures that your website content, such as words, phrases, or multi-media, is displayed correctly. Remember, content is a critical part of the conversion journey that can lead to a sale.

Alerts and Notifications

Your website monitoring alerts should reach you anytime, anywhere. Choose an APM that provides alert delivery channels(e.g., SMS, emails, slack, etc.) that are compatible with your expectations. In addition to email alerts, notifications through alternative channels such as WhatsApp or Webhooks.

Data Storage

Web performance monitoring should not solely focus on alerts but also on data storage. It is crucial as every time there is an alert, you will look into the data history of the parameters you want to investigate. Alerts are useless if you can retrieve pertinent information that triggers those alerts. 

Another case is when you want to optimize your system, an APM should be able to predict storage sufficiency and establish compliance rules for longer storage periods.

Reports

Alerts are different from reports. Ensure best practices in coming up with regular daily or weekly reports to be updated with your website’s performance. APMs help with internal compliance in reporting key performance data on website operations.

Availability Monitoring

Mostly, all site performance monitoring best practices are focused internally. However, there is one type of monitoring that most users notice first. It is the outer edge of monitoring, which measures availability. It is a user-centric uptime monitoring that determines your site’s availability, uptime, and response times. 

There are tools readily available to test the uptime and response times for your site by pinging predefined routes periodically and reporting back on them.

Most APMs provide a dashboard of uptime checks. Inside Retrace, you can see if your site had an unreliable performance by the number of spikes in response time throughout the day. Now, if it can measure downtime, it can also do uptime. These uptime checks and their history can identify trends and encourage best practices like zero-downtime deployments.

Using Retrace, you can get a quick idea of how your site responds to different locations in the world. Again, this type of monitoring doesn’t rely too much on tools. The best approach is to understand the end-user experience. This is because, by the time the APM knows that your site is slow or down, your users experience it first. 

The best practices should be that issues should be discovered and alerted before they reach your customers. However, that is not the case with availability monitoring as APMs can only predict. 

Learn the Key Metrics of Site Performance Monitoring   

So, you’ve learned the different best practices in site performance monitoring. The next thing to do is to understand the key metrics. However, there are no standard key metrics. The idea is that you can use what metrics are suitable for your website. If your website has a volume of traffic, consider deploying APM. If you have a simple portfolio site, you can opt to choose mid-level website monitoring tools. 

Many website monitoring tools mirror what a full-fledge APM package can do. However, if website performance problems need root-cause analysis at the code level, then APM is likely your best option.

But whether you choose APM as your partner in site monitoring or stick with your current website monitoring package, make sure to leverage its functionalities. For example, the more granular you can make your alerts, the more valuable it is for faster escalation. 

Speaking of escalation, most APMs offer smart escalation. It is another best practice to consider wherein you have smart alerts that allow you to route it to a specific developer or member’s best troubleshooting track record. Though this process takes some planning, the result is a much more resilient website. You can have a website that recovers quickly to sudden performance problems.

About Iryne Somera

Iryne Somera is a professor in the Department of Computer Engineering. She loves to research and write articles related to computing technology such as Computer Hardware Fundamentals, Management Information Systems, Software Development and Project Management. In her spare time, she loves to experiment in her kitchen with her healthy breakfast ideas.