Website and web application technologies have grown tremendously over the years. Websites are now more than just the storage and retrieval of information to present content to users. They now allow users to interact more with the company in the form of online forms, shopping carts, Content Management Systems (CMS), online courses, etc. The list goes on and on.
Website and Web Application Monitoring
Web monitoring is a comprehensive term that describes the activity of testing a website or web application for its availability and performance. Early web applications involved less on client-side behavior and more server-side for all its navigation, query handling, and updates. Each operation performed by the client will be taken as a web request and the result will be a full page reload at the client-side. Modern web applications have overcome the scenario by placing a great load on the client-side and reducing the request-response proceedings, making them more dynamic and complex to monitor.
Today, it’s very important (some would say required) for a business that depends primarily on their websites to have incredible uptime and performance. Users who rely on the websites for their fundamental needs or entertainment will not tolerate even a few seconds delay. Proactive detection and diagnosis of web application and page performance issues are necessary. Monitoring can occur at different global checkpoints and at different frequencies to make sure the user gets the perfect experience, without any trouble each and every time.
HTTP monitoring allows you to test availability and performance from around the world. It is a continuous sequence of request-response transactions. It’s considered a simple uptime check. A request will be sent from the client-side and an HTTP check waits on the server port to get the message, process it, and then send back the response.
Typically, any error message will also be sent back along with the response. Based on monitoring settings, it will look for certain key components. If that is available, then a positive response is received. The response brings only the content of the page, which contributes to the page availability. Monitoring of page load time, page length, response time, and request code can also be observed with the traditional HTTP monitoring.
This type of monitoring will not look for the aspects like CSS, Scripts, third-party content, and images that contribute to the major part of the web pages now. There are certain circumstances where HTTP requests fail.
- No response from the server within the determined timeout
- DNS resolving error
- HTTP error
- Network or connection error
- Connection closed by the server
- Basic authentication failed
- Content matching failure
To verify these, the request will have to be sent from different check-points. If the error continues, it should be notified to the webmaster to be resolved.
Modern Web Applications and Pages
Modern web applications and pages, such as single-page applications, that put the user experience at its utmost priority are expected to be available 24/7, anywhere in the world, usable on any screen size, secure, flexible, scalable and be ready to meet traffic spikes on demand. Therefore, there are a lot of chances of surprise errors to occur. To overcome those intimidating errors, frequent automated and real-time tests should be made.
There are certain metrics to be considered for a user to have a hassle-free experience.
- Connection time
- Network latency
- Database connectivity
- Hardware resources
- Downtime of every page element
- Performance during a load
Today’s rapidly moving world has made people impatient, that they cannot wait for a page to load for a long time. Users are likely to abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Time To First Byte (TTFB) can be affected by the following:
- Sending Request to the server
- Processing and generating the response
- Sending the request back to the client
To resolve this, the effectiveness of the web server needs to be monitored.
With the evolution of cloud technologies, such as Single Page Applications (SPAs), Web APIs, and Model View Controller (MVC), network latency has become a crucial factor to be monitored.
Network latency can be affected due to
- Network equipment like cable or router
- Wi-Fi usage
- The number of users using the connection
- Software that’s running
Monitoring of the network for the applications using the network, traffic, and bandwidth allocations can improve the network latency.
Present-day applications make more much use of the database. Retrieval of the dynamic data needs to effortless and guaranteed every time. Occasionally, the reason for the slow responding site will be the performance of the database. Thus, optimizing the database will have to be done frequently in conjunction with monitoring.
One important aspect of performance is the full page load time. It’s crucial for a page to load at considerable speed with all the images, videos, content, and all other elements of the page. Since every user is different, it’s difficult for every user to have enough bandwidth to support proper page load time. If there is going to be any interruptions in the request or response during the page load time, then winning the user will be put to a question. The protocols used and the amount of multimedia content on the workload needs to be monitored. Concurrent launches on streamed applications can also be a case for the bandwidth spike.
Effective usage of hardware resources can help in capacity planning and provide a better end-user experience. This includes monitoring items like CPU usage, memory consumption, I/O, network, and disk usage. They all play an integral part in the process and are significant aspects that need to be monitored. Database entries and traffic load affect hardware performance, therefor, keeping track of the hardware resource is of utmost importance.
Uptime of Page Elements
Any website or a web application that users rely on for their entertainment or fundamental needs should try to have an uptime of 99.9%. Frequent downtime is likely going to make the user frustrated and leave your site or application, and ultimately costing the company lost revenue. Every element like text, navigation, headers, graphics, contact options, analytics, footers, contributes to the page load time.
Furthermore, a broken link could cost you more if the link is present on a sales page. Broken links may arise if the destination URL is misspelled or the page does not exist. It gives the user the impression that the site is not maintained properly. For this reason, monitoring every page element is crucial.
Performance During Page Load
It’s very common for a website to have an increase in traffic after a marketing campaign. A few days later, the traffic on the website will get back to the normal state. Hence the website should be tested to ensure that it’s reliable during the traffic hike as well as normal days. A tool like Google Analytics is a gold standard when it comes to tracking and reporting individual page traffic.
Metrics to monitor during page load include the following:
- Start and end time
- Connect time
- Time to first byte (TTFB)
- DOM events
- Content size
The purpose of the website determines the paths the user takes. To address the challenges of modern web applications, synthetic monitoring can be the solution. In synthetic monitoring, the behavioral paths of the end users on a web app are scripted. Those scripts are run on particular intervals at different checkpoints and the performance of availability, functionality, response time can be measured. A response time test is calculated through an average of durations of the web transactions simulated on the target website at a given time interval.
For example, for a travel booking site, the flow is likely to be several options and paths: choosing the source, destination, departure, number of travelers, choice of flight, and finally booking order. Each of these paths have to be attained in a trouble-free manner.
By scripting the path and executing them repeatedly, the webmaster can overcome the shortcomings in the availability, performance, and functionality.
To wrap up, the modern web application and website of today require more than just basic HTTP monitoring. They need to provide a pleasant experience to maintain and win new users. By implementing the correct monitoring method, you can ensure that elements, content, and the user experience is intact and functioning properly. The right synthetic monitoring solution can give you the technology and tools to provide and outstanding user experience for all your complex applications and pages. Try the web application monitoring solution free for 30 days.