Top 5 Features of a Website Monitoring Solution

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When it comes to determining the effectiveness of a website monitoring solution, its included features are paramount to revealing its true abilities. While there are literally hundreds of free and paid monitoring tools available to system administrators, if you’re seeking a solution capable of providing detailed reports and monitoring critical performance metrics, then you must seek out a tool with several universally important features. Although the following nine features are only a handful of vital functions, they offer an excellent reference point for making a purchasing decision.

Feature #1 – Geographic Monitoring Locations

As your website audience grows, the geographic location of visitors will likely grow alongside it. Remember, the further your audience is from your website server, the slower the response time. By monitoring the performance of your website from various locations throughout the country (and world), you’re able to determine exactly how your website responds to requesting browsers from across the globe. If you notice a significant drop in performance based upon geographic locations, you may want to consider implementing a CDN, or Content Delivery Network, solution.

Feature #2 – In-Depth Diagnostic Capabilities

While the actual monitoring abilities of a website monitoring solution are essential for its success, its ability to diagnose errors and issues is paramount for swift error resolution. When an error report is gathered, it’s imperative that your monitoring solution be capable of running in-depth diagnostic tests to help isolate specific errors within all components. As a general rule of thumb, the greater the diagnostic capabilities of a website, the faster a resolution may be found and implemented.

Feature #3 – Content Rendering Checks

Although a website may be up-and-running, it doesn’t necessarily it’s rendering web pages in an accurate manner. One of the most destructive situations for any website is inaccurate content rendering. However, with a website monitoring solution, administrators are able to continuously keep track of not only the speed of page rendering, but also the accuracy. Nothing can ruin an online reputation faster than inaccurate content rendering. Therefore, this is an imperative level of monitoring all websites must implement.

Feature #4 – Website Availability

While the primary function of a website monitoring software is to ensure the full operation and performance of an enterprise, there are many instances when a single page can become unresponsive. This proves extra problematic if this page contains critical business elements, such as an order form or a registration form. Therefore, it’s important that your website monitoring software be able to determine not only the entire website availability (uptime), but also specific webpage availability. The most effective monitoring techniques to monitor the performance of each page, as well as monitoring the dynamic content within the pages, such as video, image and application files. Structure the monitoring tool to send out specific alerts should one or all of these elements fail to respond within the assigned performance threshold.

Essential Reports from a Website Monitoring Solution

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If you’re curious about implementing a website monitoring solution into your website enterprise, there are many considerations that will affect your decision. While the exact monitoring techniques and capabilities of a software are paramount to its success, perhaps one of the most critical elements of a monitoring solution is its reporting capabilities. Even if a solution is capable of providing you with outstanding monitoring abilities, if its reporting functions are lacking, the effectiveness of its monitoring solutions is diminished. Therefore, when you’re searching for the ideal website monitoring tool, only choose a solution capable of delivering the following reports.

Periodic Reports

Modern website enterprises are more like living beings than computer programmed files. Because of the high level of interactivity between infrastructure components and users, it’s imperative that an administrator stays ahead of the curve in terms of trends and website behavior. The only way to successfully accomplish this goal is through reporting insights. Make sure that your reports are capable of being gathered based upon specific time frames. As a general rule of thumb, reports must have the option of gathering daily, weekly, monthly and yearly data. The exact level of data can vary, but make sure the tool is capable of delving into deep-level data statistics and user behavior for the most accurate view into the actual performance and functionality of your website infrastructure.

Quick-View Reports

The ability to quickly scan various data sets is imperative when determining the source of an error or documenting behavior variations based upon upgrades or site improvements. However, there are times when an administrator simply needs a quick snippet of information. Therefore, it’s imperative a¬†website monitoring solution provide “quick-view” reports. That is, reports that are displayed on the primary control panel, or dashboard, for streamlined and expedited review.

Visual Performance Graphs

While the majority of reports is delivered through a series of data sets, numbers and figures, it’s imperative that administrator’s receive detailed and real-time performance graphs when it comes to website availability and response time. Within these visual graphs, make sure information such as average response time for all users as well as response times based upon specific geographic locations is available.

Notification Options

 Reports are not only accessed at the leisure of system administrators, but they should be sent out with alert notifications. Therefore, make sure you choose a solution capable of delivering report notifications should an error or issue arise within the inner workings of the website. Notifications should have the option to be sent via email or by SMS text messages.

Real User Website Monitoring Essentials

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In order for your website enterprise to be a success, you must learn how to divide your priorities. While you must ensure the site is filled with accurate and helpful information, an administrator must also ensure the architecture and performance of a website meets the ever-tightening user performance demands. No matter how large or small your website may be, it’s imperative to remember that every visitor is unique, and so is their expectations regarding performance and functionality. In an attempt to satisfy varied user expectations and requirements, real user website monitoring techniques are imperative. This form of user/website monitoring focuses on end-user experiences by gathering a unique set of data values. By gaining real-user performance reports, administrator’s gain deeper insight into how their sites are viewed by visitors. These insights may navigate webmaster’s to improvements and alterations they otherwise would be unaware of.

Data From Real Users

While there are many other effective ways to monitor the performance and operation of a website, other performance monitoring techniques rely on synthetic user data. That is, data that’s collected from a computer-generated script, which interacts with your site – not data from a real-life user. Real user website monitoring provides data that correlates with an actual event, or user experience. It’s only with this data an administrator is able to view actual data values, such as:

  • Performance based on geographic locations
  • Most used browsers and its effect on website performance
  • All platforms utilized to access a site; with data to delve into response times and click-out rates.
  • Visualized performance metrics, which provide a clear and unobstructed view into the actual experiences had by users.

Real-Time Tracking and Feedback

The most well-equipped real user website monitoring solutions offer near-instant user tracking. This means system administrator’s are able to track the behavior and performance (interaction) of specific website elements for a specific user, or set of users. By gaining real-time monitoring feedback and reports, an administrator is capable of making last-minute adjustments and alterations to immediately support the highest performance and functionality level. There are a number of companies that offer solutions like that such as Pingdom and Uptime-Pal.

Excellent Companion for Active Monitoring Solutions

In order to provide your website with truly comprehensive monitoring and coverage, it’s essential to combine two types of monitoring techniques: active and real user (also known as passive monitoring). When an administrator runs both active and passive monitoring tools, they’re able to receive a complete solution for identifying errors and issues. These tools are able to provide unique measurements from synthetic and real users. By viewing and comparing these two reports, administrator’s are able to determine:

  • The number of visitors that were impacted by website downtime or system outages.
  • The number of errors and issues that directly influence user engagement, visitor conversion and abandonment percentage. With this information, error fixes and improvements can be prioritized based on importance.
  • The root cause for website performance errors. By quickly revealing the exact cause of an error or issue, administrator’s may correct the error before it has time to affect user experience for a large number of visitors.

How Website Monitoring Improves Online Shopping During the Holiday Rush

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For thousands of online retailers, the holiday season is a time of great excitement. Not only are new products typically launched during the rush that accompanies the holiday season, but overall, sales generally see a significant increase. Starting in November, many eCommerce stores begin to notice an increase in traffic, and hopefully an increase in sales. If you wish to maximize your revenue during this profitable time of year, it’s imperative that you narrow your focus on creating a stable and high-performing website. While there are many techniques and methods available to secure a stable online environment, the use of website monitoring solutions is increasing important during this highly valuable time of the year.

Importance of Performance for eCommerce Websites

While it’s no secret that a high-functioning website is imperative for all websites, it’s even more so important for eCommerce websites. Did you know that a recent survey revealed that if a website takes longer than 5 to 7 seconds to completely load, over 75% of Internet users will click out of the site. What’s even more surprising – almost all responders said that they would click out of a website, even if they were in the middle of purchasing an item.

If you wish to avoid losing sales due to an under-performing website, then it’s imperative that you implement an effective website monitoring solution capable of monitoring user activity as well as the performance health of critical website components.

Necessary Features to Boost Visitor Conversions

Even if your website is capable of attracting thousands of unique visitors, if it under-performs in terms of speed and overall functionality, these visitors will likely move on to your competitor. To avoid this situation, there are several features you must ensure your monitoring solution provides. These include:

  • Server Response Time - The duration it takes for a server to receive and respond to an HTTP request determines not only the functionality of your site, but also your conversion rate. Therefore, it’s imperative that you establish several performance metrics capable of delivering instant reports regarding server response times. However, to truly take control of your enterprise, these response reports should include potential areas within an infrastructure resulting in server slowdowns.
  • Geographic Location of Users - The further away your users are from the network servers, the longer the response time will be. If you’re noticing that the majority of your visitors are coming from a far-away land, then it’s imperative to adopt a CDN, or Content Delivery Network, capable of shortening the physical distance between the requesting and responding servers. When implemented properly, this can substantially increase the overall response times between users and your website.
  • Instant Error Notifications - Perhaps one of the most notable ways to decrease visitor conversion rate is by hosting a website that’s constantly featuring errors or error-derived slowdowns. While even the best networking and website designs can feature errors, it’s the swiftness of correction that truly determines the strength of your site. Therefore, it’s beyond important your monitoring solution provide 24/7 coverage and instant error notifications. However, to prevent bogging down your email or phone accounts with non-critical notifications, make sure the solution offers a built-in escalation tool capable of highlighting the most critical errors.