Synthetic user monitoring is a technique that simulates user transactions—or common paths on websites—so the administrator can watch for performance issues. These transactions are meant to represent how a user might be experiencing the site. For instance, is a potential customer getting an error when they add an item to their cart? Is a specific page loading slowly or not loading at all? These are things that can affect your bottom line and result in unplanned fire drills.
Synthetic user monitoring should not be confused with Real User Monitoring. Real User Monitoring captures and analyzes transactions from real users on a site. It helps understand load times for your pages from browsers in their actual locations.
These approaches provide different perspectives on web performance. Each have their benefits, but today—in honor of the release of Web Performance Monitor 3.0—we’re going to focus on situations when synthetic user monitoring is a good choice.
Find Performance Issues Before They Cause Problems for Your Users
IT infrastructure monitoring tools are great at telling you if a server or a service is up or down, but users might still be frustrated even if these things look OK. Synthetic user experience monitoring tools let you see if an overall transaction is working (can a user purchase something from your site?) or if a certain step is having trouble (when I click “buy” my payment processing is hanging). Once you’re alerted, you can go into troubleshooting mode with the specifics of what your users are seeing to minimize the impact. Plus, you can continuously run these tests from multiple locations to ensure things are working where your users are.
Benchmark Your Site’s Performance to Identify Areas for Improvement
As mentioned, synthetic user experience monitoring tools can watch your websites from multiple locations at frequencies of your choice. Seeing this data over time can help you identify areas to optimize going forward. Waterfall charts can be particularly helpful to pinpoint performance bottlenecks over time.
Monitor the Performance of Critical SaaS Applications From Inside Your Firewall
Most companies rely on third-party SaaS applications to run some aspects of their business. For instance, your sales team may be using a SaaS CRM solution to drive and track their daily activities. It’s critical to know if your coworkers are having issues getting what they need. While you don’t own the app, you’re the one they’ll come to when they have issues. A common scenario is setting up a transaction to make sure a valid user can log in successfully and be alerted if it fails.
Knowing about failures or performance issues before your users can save you time and frustration. Synthetic user experience monitoring can help when it comes to websites and web-based applications. How have you used it? Comment below and let us know.