Now that you have the user experience almost nailed down (you think) for your website, it's time to switch your attention ensuring it performs as well as required. Enter the need for an external web monitoring framework.
If you're not sure how to get started developing a framework for external website monitoring, or maybe why you even need to, then there's an e-book that will put you in the right frame of mind. From Realtime Publishers, the book is The Shortcut Guide To Assuring Website Performance through External Web Monitoring.
Written by Dan Sullivan, an experienced System Architect, this book is a quick read through the why and how of external web monitoring. It was written for managers and decision makers (such as LoB executives) -- people who are responsible for ensuring their websites are running smoothly.
The Need for Website Monitoring
The first couple chapters of the book explain what external web monitoring is and why you need it. You are walked through the various components used for monitoring and made to understand why each monitoring activity on its own does not provide an overall view of what's happening with your website performance. You need to look at it as a whole.
And if you don't think that website monitoring isn't linked to your bottom line, think again. Chapter 3 helps you understand how a poorly performing website can mean the difference between record revenues and lots of bad comments on Twitter or Facebook.
We spoke with Dan Sullivan and asked him what some of the most common misconceptions are related monitoring. One of the biggest and most important is that organizations fail to understand that their audiences are in different locations and thus monitoring needs to happen not just where the website resides, but in the different locations where the audiences reside.
Consider RIAs for example. These applications are in their peak excitement phase and everyone wants to deploy them. But not everyone is going to have the same performance level viewing the website, and in some cases, RIAs are going to cause problems. Organizations need to weigh the costs against the benefits of these newer technologies.
Developing a Monitoring Framework
The final chapter in this book takes you through the steps required to develop an external web monitoring framework, or roadmap. Developing your framework requires a cross organization team which should include the following:
- LoB execs/managers -- the decision makes who must weigh the risks and costs of monitoring and new functionality.
- Usability experts -- who understand the workflows/navigation patterns for the website.
- Designers/Developers -- who create the test scripts and understand the underlying functionality of the website/application.
- Sys Admiin/Network Managers -- who understand the broader infrastructure.
In cases where you have third party providers, you need to ensure that network admins who know their infrastructure are involved as well as those who work through the details of the SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
Your framework is made up monitoring services, scripts to test and reporting mechanisms that should merge with other KPIs across the broader governance structure in your organization.
And because your website is going to constantly evolve and your audience's needs will change, you will have the same roles on your ongoing governance team to support the website.
Do SMBs Monitor Differently?
Sullivan says in theory no. SMBs should not be doing anything different for external monitoring. But in practice, there are differences in scale and control. Many SMBs do more outsourcing and 3rd party provisioning and the breadth of apps to monitor will be much different.
Get Started on your Monitoring Framework Today
Typically when we start developing our websites the focus is on usability. Sullivan suggests now that we have a better understanding and have established many best practices for usability, it's time to focus on the other side -- ensuring consistent performance.
This e-book is a great resource to get you started. Sullivan has extensive experience with industries such as Financial Services, government, life sciences, etc.. and has been involve in large data intensive applications, so he understands the need to focus on the performance of a website.
The really good news is that this book is free and it's not a long read. Realtime Publishers offers a number of eBooks related to IT for free. And these books are written by IT professionals working in the fields they write about. You can view all the books Sullivan has written for Realtime here.