How to Choose the Right Website Monitoring Tool

Maintaining maximum website uptime is vital to competing in the always-online global market. This is particularly crucial for e-commerce businesses, where every second of downtime may cost millions in lost revenue in terms of aborted transactions, plus loss of future business from customers who refuse to return.

While missing a single sale is painful, losing customer trust can be much more damaging in the long term. For online-only businesses, outages could place the entire future of the organization at risk.

As a result, website monitoring tools that alert you to outages and performance issues are actually of mission-critical importance. Here’s how to choose a monitoring tool that adds value.

Automated Ping Testing

The 24/7 demands of your global customer base means the website needs to be available around the clock. It also means you need instant alerts if the site goes offline, so that remedial work can begin immediately.

Your ideal website monitoring tool will not only test availability automatically, but do so on a regular basis. In fact, to minimize downtime and accelerate your response, you need to run tests as often as once a minute.

Read our guide to learn more about ping testing and its limitations.

Global Website Testing

In most cases a single website (with appropriate localizations) is sufficient to serve your global customer base. A content delivery network (CDN) then helps to accelerate delivery of content to users by caching static content in a location that is physically closer to them.

Under normal circumstances, the website experience is roughly equivalent anywhere in the world. But if one of the local CDN nodes goes down or encounters technical issues, users in that geolocation may be unable to access the site.

A centralized website monitoring tool will be able to assess the performance of the parent site, but provides little insight into the global user experience. Instead, you must choose a tool that uses a network of distributed servers to test availability from different points across the world. This is the only way to accurately identify localized issues—and be alerted to them immediately.

If you’re looking to select the most efficient CDN, be sure to read our benchmarked CloudFront, Cloudflare, Fastly, and Google Cloud.

Comprehensive Reporting

Effective website monitoring is more than just providing alerts that your site has gone offline. You also need to know why and how these problems occurred. Your ideal website monitoring toolkit will include a detailed reporting engine to capture the results of each availability test.

The reports generated by the tool will inform initial troubleshooting efforts, helping ensure you are not wasting time as you work to bring the site back online. These reports will also help you identify long-term issues that may have gone undetected, and provide an action plan of improvement to reduce the risk of future outages. The right reporting engine will also suggest potential optimizations that will help to improve page load speed and overall digital user experience.

Going Beyond Basic Availability Monitoring

Knowing when your site has gone offline is vital, but it only tells half the story. A poor-performing website is almost as dangerous to your e-commerce operations as one that is completely unavailable.

A website monitoring tool should provide web performance insight as standard, allowing you to see all details about where the website is underperforming. If SQL queries take too long to execute, images take too long to download, or key scripts timeout, you need to know—as soon as possible. You can then assign the necessary developer resources to make improvements—and improve the website experience for your customers across the world.

This article will show you how to analyze and improve page load performance.

Minimal Management Overheads

Just because a website availability testing tool is comprehensive does not mean it needs to be overly complex—or require significant developer resources to deploy and manage. You are looking for a tool that can be configured and operational in a matter of minutes.

Every minute spent managing your tools is time taken away from the tasks that will actually improve performance. Ultimately, you are interested in the reports generated by your website testing tools, not the setup and management process. The simpler to set up and use, the better.

This video shows how easy it should be to set up website monitoring.

Experience Monitoring and Synthetic Testing

To analyze the whole picture of how useful and effective your website is, you need a monitoring tool that focuses on users and how they interact with the website. It’ll make sense to look for a solution that includes real user monitoring (RUM) to collect performance and experience metrics from actual visitors. RUM lets you focus on making web performance improvements based on, for example, the characteristics of users who are the most likely to convert.

A feature that complements RUM to fully assess user experience is synthetic transaction monitoring, which boils down to simulating visitor interactions on your website. It lets you run automated tests for your crucial transactions to get alerted as soon as your critical site flows stop working correctly—before any user is affected.

Vendor Support

FAQs, knowledge bases, and blog posts are great for basic troubleshooting and advice on how to use your website availability monitoring tools—but they will only take you so far. No matter how easy-to-use and manageable those tools are, you will occasionally encounter an issue that needs a speedy resolution—the sort of issue that needs a product expert to assist.

As you search for the right tool for your website, don’t forget to consider the support offered by the vendor. Your queries may be few and far between—but you definitely want someone on hand to answer questions when they arise, using a channel that suits your preferences and needs.

Start Your Search Here Today

SolarWinds® Pingdom® was awarded DNSStuff.com’s Best Website Monitoring Tool of 2019 and should be included on your shortlist for further investigation. You can sign up for a free 14-day no obligation trial and see how it meets the criteria outlined above—and the specific needs of your business.

Click here to get started—you’ll be generating test results in a matter of minutes.

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