Website monitoring is the process of verifying that your website is performing as it should. In general, it looks at three dimensions of site performance: availability, functionality, and speed. These tell you how effectively your pages provide a smooth user experience.
Every website owner should monitor their website to improve services and cater to changing demands. In this blog, we discuss some of the best practices when it comes to website monitoring.
1. Enable alerts and notifications
Preventive measures will always trump reactive solutions. But when things go wrong, the next best thing is to catch the fire and put it out fast. If you’re hearing about web performance issues from your customers, you’re not acting quick enough.
Alerts and notifications let you be the first to know whenever something isn’t working up to par. You need alarm bells for availability issues, broken features, suspected malware, slow loading times, and more.
Functionality and error alerts are among the most important notifications you should have. They flag broken click paths that are critical in the buyer’s journey. You should also be on the lookout for problems with your web server and malicious files.
Failing to address any of these issues on time damages your brand’s credibility. You’ll see an increased rate of abandoned carts and bounce rates, undoing all of your progress in a flash.
2. Set up your baseline
Being vigilant is a good trait, but there’s also such a thing as over vigilance. Having alerts pop up every few minutes is a sign of high false positives. These notifications are counterproductive because they distract you from other tasks when there’s nothing to fret about.
To minimize false alarms, it’s a good idea to set up baselines or thresholds for alerts. Define the upper limit for slow page speeds and other errors that triggers your alarm. This way, you know exactly when to drop what you’re doing and focus on fixing bugs on your website.
It takes a while to come up with a good baseline since you need past data to inform your decisions. Monitor and document your typical performance patterns and make that your starting point. As you get more data, fine-tune your alert profiles as needed.
3. Track updates and optimizations
Implementing updates is a non-negotiable task in web maintenance. It protects you from cyber threats and lets you take advantage of new technologies. Unfortunately, some website optimizations have unforeseen consequences.
Adding new features and content can sometimes slow down site speed or cause existing functions to go haywire. Web developers backup your website before launching enhancements, but sometimes the problems don’t arise until end users have a go at them.
Keeping tabs on patches and optimizations is a way to help you backtrack where things went wrong. In case your traffic goes down or your conversion rates take a hit, you’d know exactly where to apply the fix.
It’s also part of data collection to help you strengthen security measures and better understand your audience. The richer your data pool is, the more effectively you can craft future strategies.
4. Automate report generation
The importance of website analytics cannot be stressed enough. To survive a dynamic market, you need all the data you can get to predict trends and user preferences.
Luckily, we live in a time where information is plentiful, as well as the tools to extract them. Automating reports on key performance indicators saves time and resources while making sure you don’t miss out on important insights.
The first step is identifying which KPIs you want to see on each report. Then, set how often you’d like to receive data visualizations and pertinent findings. Grant access to select members of your team so that everyone is up to speed on how your website is performing. This will make it easier for your organization to work as a unit and whip up solutions fast.
Certain web monitoring and analytics tools allow you to customize reports. You can even set up a live dashboard to reference for real-time decision-making.
5. Check uptime from multiple locations
The uptime metric shows the availability of your website. It’s calculated by dividing the time a website is online by the time it’s fully operational.
For example, if your website is open 24 hours a day for seven days a week, it’s active for 168 hours. If it runs into a snag and experiences downtime for 5 hours, your total uptime is 97%. You might think that this number is exceptional, but for eCommerce websites and other online businesses, it equates to considerable losses.
There’s a lot of debate on how much downtime costs. The bigger your business is, the more money you lose from even just a few minutes of network failures. Amazon loses over $200,000 per minute of downtime including forgone revenue and cost of system recovery.
Check your uptime on different locations and consider various network latency issues outside of your organization. Use globally dispersed servers to detect website outages from anywhere in the world and optimize your pages to deliver a consistent web experience.
You should also test for other metrics with the same level of thoroughness. Check site speed, peak response time, and time to first byte.
6. Check third-party services
Plug-ins and add-ons are commonly used for marketing automation. They also serve as a bridge to integrate your website with other technologies and online platforms. On eCommerce websites, third-party services are applied for data collection, payment, inventory checks, and more.
Plug-ins add virtually any feature ranging from malware scanning to customer engagement. Aside from cleaning out junk code and improving your built-in programs, it’s important to check the performance of third-party services.
Ensure that all plug-ins installed on your website are still supported by its vendor and update them regularly. Outdated plug-ins are entry points for hackers to infiltrate your website and steal sensitive information. In 2012, 83% of hacked WordPress websites were compromised because of unpatched themes and plug-ins.
Dated third-party services also derail user experience. They can cause your pages to load slowly, interfere with other features, and crash your website.
7. Monitor SSL Certificates
Lastly, double-check your SSL certificates. These are issued to websites with a Secure Sockets Layer, which safeguards the connection between the web server and browser.
All websites need SSL certificates, especially those that handle credit card numbers and other confidential information. They authenticate the identity of organizations and prevent cybercriminals from intercepting the exchange of data between two systems.
Search engines flag expired SSL certificates, and web browsers warn users before they can access your website. So even if your pages are in top shape, faulty SSL certificates will harm your web traffic and brand trust.
Mark your calendar in advance for when you need to renew your certificates or set automated alerts so you never miss the date.
Web monitoring is a year-long task, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Some web monitoring tools offer all-in-one services to view everything on a unified dashboard. They can also fix surface-level errors automatically. Of course, you shouldn’t always rely on them.
Maximizing your website’s potential needs professional minds at work. For one-off projects, website updates, and emergency response, avail of on-call web development services from experts.
Work with the Best Web Development Team
Have your website working like a well-oiled machine with a professional team of web developers and designers. We do website maintenance, implement enhancements, and customize features to put you back on track. Contact DevWekrz today.