Need For Speed: Top 10 Web Performance Metrics You Must Monitor
November 29, 2018
by Sharon Solomon
The digital landscape has metamorphosed. While a decade ago websites were stacking up content and media like a buffet, the focus has now shifted to becoming leaner and faster. Performance metrics have taken center stage.
Online publishers and eCommerce websites are in an extremely competitive space today. Content consumers and online shoppers expect nothing less than the optimal user experience (UX). Delays in page load times can simply lead to the user opting out of your website. Attention spans are getting shorter.
Top 10 Web Performance Metrics
There are dozens of web performance metrics that you need to track and monitor to make sure you are giving your users the best digital experience at all times. However, 10 metrics stand out due to their direct connection to your user experience. Losing track of these can spell disaster for your business KPIs. Right before we get into the actual metrics, I’d like you to consider the infrastructure necessary to measure them successfully. When monitoring the below metrics to improve performance consider that some require RUM (Real User Monitoring) and some benefit for synthetic monitoring. Here’s a guide on how to select the right user monitoring solution for your needs.
1 – Page Load Time
This is one of the key metrics in web performance monitoring since everything today is about speed. Milliseconds translate into dollars earned or lost. Page load time measures the time it takes to load content on a webpage when the user clicks on a link or types in a web address.
2 – Time to Title
The length of time between the instant a visitor requests your website and the moment your site’s title shows up in their browser tab is called the Time to Title. Seeing a title right away lets the user know that your website is legitimate, which makes them more likely to wait for the entire page to finish loading.
3 – Start Render Time
Start Render Time is the first point in time that some element is displayed on the screen, even before the page content starts loading. In fact, it could be something as simple as a background color. But it’s the first indication that something is happening on a website.
4 – Bounce Rate
Bounce rates measure the percentage of site visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate usually indicates that visitors are making it to your site but the slow page speeds are damaging their user experience. Poor content and lackluster design can also affect bounce rates.
5 – Time to Interact
Time to interact is defined as the time between the making of a user request and till the moment he can click on links, type in text fields, scroll the page or perform actions on the page. Some elements such as scripts and trackers may still continue to load during the Time to Interact period.
6 – Requests Per Second
Requests per second is a key performance metric which tells you how many actions are being sent to the target server every second. A request can be considered as any interaction with resources on the page – HTML pages, images, multimedia files, databases queries, etc.
7 – Overall Weight
The total number of bytes the user receives is referred to as the overall weight of the website. More important than the overall weight is the relationship between each asset since one heavy asset can slow down everything else. Web page sizes have grown exponentially in recent years.
8 – Error Rate
Error rate is a measure of the percentage of problem requests. If you see a spike in the error rate at a particular point in a load test, then it’s a good indication that something is preventing the application from operating correctly. This is valuable information that you need clear insights on.
9 – Peak Response Time
This is a metric that looks at anomalies within the average response time by showing elements that are taking longer than normal to load. This metric offers a very helpful way to pinpoint slower than normal applications that should be investigated further.
10 – Connection Time
The time between a request and when a connection is established between the user’s browser and your origin server is called the connection time. Identifying challenges to connection time can be difficult because it depends on many factors. For example, too much server traffic can cause connection times to spike.
Quick Tip: Users in different geographic regions are likely to experience longer connection times. You can use load testing tools to simulate heavy server usage or you may need to upgrade your infrastructure. Alternatively, you also have the option of offloading some assets onto a CDN or a caching server.
The Impact of 3rd and 4th Party Tags and Scripts
The connection between 3rd party services and web performance can’t be ignored. “External” tags and scripts introduce numerous performance risks into your ecosystem. This is evident in online publishing sites, which typically implement over 80 different 3rd party tags for various purposes.
The biggest culprit – code changes made by 3rd party vendors. They also often fail to communicate the impacts they can have on your web performance. When left unmonitored, even a single code change made by a 3rd party vendor can alter the dynamics of your ecosystem and increase your page load times.
But that’s not all. The 3rd party tags often call upon 4th party tags for enhanced functionality and operational capabilities. This often complicates matters.
The best way to steer clear of trouble is to gain a bird’s-eye view of your ecosystem and learn about the dependencies created by these services. Learning about the performance costs of these 3rd and 4th party services can give you the ability to create a seamless UX and craft your online business to perfection.