5 best practices for real user monitoring

5 Best Practices for Real User Monitoring

Real User Monitoring (RUM) is a method of web performance monitoring that captures user experience metrics on visitors to your website. It is also known as real user metrics, end-user experience monitoring, or simply user monitoring.

You can think of Real User Monitoring as an automated way to get user feedback on your website. Not every user will complete a survey or fill out a feedback form, but RUM listens to each one of your users.

If you’re here, you probably already know a lot of the benefits RUM can bring you, but you still may not be sure exactly how to use it. Here is a list of best practices to help optimize your Real User Monitoring.

Track the Performance of New Products and Features

Your production site is not the place you want to test your code. Usually, your QA team will run local tests on your digital products before they are deployed, or your DevOps team will run automated tests. The problem is that most of these tests will be based on well-defined workflows you expect visitors to take. But there are millions of ways a visitor can use your website, and neither QA nor DevOps can account for all of them.

Manual and automated monitoring are both extremely valuable. They help a business guarantee that the most important parts of your website or application are functioning correctly. We also recommend setting up transaction monitoring so that critical workflows, like checking out in a shopping cart, can be tested on a schedule. But you also need to monitor new features with RUM.

RUM is not a replacement for testing, but it can help you find issues in your application that aren’t covered by testing. This is especially important for new features that you just released to production. It will allow you to peek over these users’ shoulders as they experience the feature for the first time. You will not only be able to track errors that occur but also see how these new features perform in the wild and determine whether they are getting used.

Share Data with Your Marketing Team

Real User Monitoring is an important tool for your developers and DevOps team. The data they get from RUM can be used to find performance issues, errors, and anomalies in websites so they can be fixed. But RUM is not only for your technical teams. This same data can give your marketing team some useful insights. Here are some things marketers can learn from RUM reports:

  • RUM will tell marketers which features of a website are used the most and which can help them tweak marketing campaigns, target customers, more accurately, and increase conversions
  • RUM will tell marketers when part of a website has errors or performance issues so they can pause any paid campaigns that are directing visitors to those pages until the issues can be fixed
  • With RUM reports, your marketers can inform customers of known issues and minimize customer loss

You shouldn’t confuse RUM with other tools like Google Analytics. It is a tool that is used by technical teams, but your website’s performance metrics are important to your whole company. Website analytics won’t provide customer satisfaction, Apdex scores, or details about errors.

Reduce the Impact of Performance Issues

End users sometimes report bugs and issues so your developers can fix them, but most won’t. RUM will be there to track errors that these users don’t report and find them before the first support ticket.

Have you ever looked at how much this traditional process has affected your business? A user enters a support ticket. Developers try to recreate it. Maybe they can. Maybe they can’t. If they can’t, they might be able to ask the user for more details and get enough information to solve the problem. This takes a lot of time your developers could spend building new features. With RUM reporting, your developers know exactly where an issue is happening and who it is affecting.

RUM data is only helpful if it is used. It is important to monitor RUM reports for performance issues and errors so developers find them first and have a complete picture of how and why an error occurred. RUM performance data can also be combined with bounce rate, conversion rate, and other marketing data in business intelligence software to show the direct correlation between better website performance and increased ROI.

Check Third-Party Code

Most websites rely on third-party code for various types of services, including analytics, content delivery networks, live chat, payment gateways, and more. Each time you add third-party code to your website, you add another source of potential performance issues and errors, and you have no access to the source of this code to fix these problems.

This makes it critical to monitor the performance of these services. Their performance will directly affect the user experience of your website visitors. Then, if there are any issues, your development team can come up with a solution. Since they can’t modify the code, there are two options:

  • Remove it: If the service adds no value for your users, like A/B testing software, removing it might be the best solution
  • Replace it: If the service is critical to your business success, like a payment gateway, you may have to search for a replacement that performs better

Combine RUM with Other Forms of Monitoring

There is no magic bullet when it comes to monitoring. RUM should be only one tool in your arsenal of website monitoring, and it is best used in combination with other forms of monitoring. It will help you find those issues that slipped past QA and synthetic monitoring, but it won’t tell you about the issue until a visitor has already run into it. It is a method of passive monitoring.

You also need to implement active monitoring. Both synthetic and uptime monitoring will alert you about website issues before they become an issue for your visitors. Uptime checks are important because you need to make sure your site can be reached. Synthetic monitoring takes active monitoring a step further and can be set up to check critical workflows on a schedule, so you can be sure they perform well when a visitor uses them.

Uptime monitoring, RUM, and synthetic monitoring are all important to ensure that a website is providing the best user experience possible. Ready to find out how they can help your team? Try out the Uptime.com free trial now.

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Stephan is a senior software engineer and has been a developer for almost two decades. Some topics he’s covered include network security, web development, web analytics, artificial intelligence, 3D modeling, and programming in PHP, Python and JavaScript.

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