Website Monitoring 3: User Experience
The first checks that you create with your monitoring service will be about ensuring that your site is online and available to shoppers. Once you are confident of that the next consideration is user experience. Is your website fast enough to keep your visitors satisfied? Or is it frustrating enough to send them looking for alternatives?
Speed matters. In 2006, the average online shopper expected a web page to load in four seconds. In 2013 the same shopper expected a page to load in two seconds or less.
Research shows that 52% of online shoppers consider quick page loading important to their site loyalty and 79% are less likely to buy from the same site again when dissatisfied with site performance.
Again monitoring can help by providing detailed reports and graphs that illustrate performance.
It’s tempting to think “I visit my site a few times a week and it always feels pretty fast” but that isn’t enough for a couple of reasons:
- In the flower business speed (and user experience) is most likely to suffer when you are least likely to notice: the major floral holidays. The increased traffic can slow your site down and frustrate customers when you probably aren’t checking it.
- You will almost always see your website perform better than the average visitor because you likely visit it frequently. This lets your web browser “cache” or store the content locally which means that you don’t have to wait for that content to download from the server.
Monitoring services help you evaluate the experience in a couple of ways. The first is that they won’t cache page content, which means the timing they report will be much closer to what actual users experience.
They also help put the speed measurements into context. What people expect when shopping online is always changing but a good monitoring service will provide feedback on what the times from your site really mean. Typically good results will show in green, less stealer results in yellow or orange, and bad results in red.
Monitoring services also make it easy to check multiple pages and processes. Sure – the loading time of your home page is very important but what about some of your other most popular pages? How long does it take to load the specials page? Or add an item to the cart? Monitoring lets you check each of those things, as often as every minute.
A great thing about monitoring for speed (as opposed to just availability) is that it lets you prepare and respond to a serious problem (a slow website) instead of just notifying you of a fatal problem (an offline website). If your monitoring service informs you that your site is getting slower you can act to protect your business – you may be able to put a message on the website asking people to call you if they have any problems.
A slowing website can also indicate a coming outage as the server enters a death spiral, getting slower and slower before it finally goes down. Again a monitoring service helps by providing advance warning.