Tortoise, Dinosaur or Ostrich?
Proactive vs Reactive Web Monitoring – 3 Metaphors From the Animal Kingdom
by Penny Hoelscher
In February 2017, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) S3 web-based storage service suffered an outage that led to half of the internet “melting down” and costing businesses millions. It was caused by an operator’s typing error when issuing a routine command to take a few S3 servers offline.
What has this got to do with you?
Despite the fact that the entire outage lasted 4 hours and 17 minutes, Amazon came under attack from experts and customers in toe-curling global headline news. AppleInsider reported that even Apple was affected, with a variety of cloud services experiencing outages and slowdowns. Apple relies on Amazon for portions of its cloud infrastructure. Albeit not as a result of the meltdown, rumor has it the company is thought to be gradually shifting away from its dependence on Amazon.
Perhaps you’re not an Amazon or an Apple, but you too may be vulnerable. It all boils down to reliability which has a direct affect on your revenue stream. If your web application or site delivers poor performance, your customers will go to your faster, more modern, more customer-centric competitors where they experience less downtime, fewer outages and faster page loading times, and better service. The result: you will lose sales, money and even your reputation.
How can you tell that it’s time to upgrade your website monitoring tool and get expert assistance? Well, you’ve already dropped the ball when you start noticing a decline in visitors; when once a waterfall, the stream of traffic to your website has slowed to a trickle. An external website monitoring tool like AlertBot can alert you to potential signs of trouble, like:
- Degraded performance, e.g. due to page bloating, inefficient scripts, backend services.
- Cyber attacks, e.g. website defacing and file changes.
- Incompatible website and addons, e.g. by loading and testing site scripts.
- Software and database issues, e.g. overloaded application servers and database bottlenecks.
- Server failures, e.g. SSL, DNS, HTTP, and Ping.
In a nutshell, if your website persona resembles one of the following – tortoise, dinosaur or ostrich – you’re in trouble:
TORTOISE: Outages, high down-times and slow loading times
The internet is not like your local shopping mall which is a convenient one-stop shop for all your household needs. These days, “I want it and I want it now” customers have far more options and if you’re closed for business, they’re not going to go and have a cup of coffee and wait for your door to open again; they’re simply going to mosey over to your competitors. Only one thing hasn’t changed in the digital sphere: some old adages hold true. Thing is, customer loyalty is a fair weather friend in an online environment, and when it comes to affiliate loyalty, frankly, for them, time is money.
Website monitoring tools not only report on outages and high down-times, they help you to identify where (e.g. a particular geographic location), when (e.g. peak hours) and why (e.g. network issues) these are occurring. You may find it is your business model that is at fault, not slow servers or bloated software; for instance, perhaps you’re doing maintenance and performing upgrades at the wrong time in a different time zone to that of your head office.
In addition, page loading speed is one of the ways Google ranks your web pages. This matters because when searching for products and services, customers will click on the matching businesses Google serves first.
DINOSAUR – Being behind the times
Google lowers mobile page rankings for companies who do not have a mobile responsive web design. New website design trends have changed the face of online businesses and today’s tech-savvy generation can spot an old-fashioned, un-cool design in a heartbeat. But, keeping up with new design technologies can have an impact on your website’s performance. Page bloat is much like a beer belly; extraneous code, affiliate advertising and toxic data (storage of unnecessary and dated information) creeps up sneakily but has a huge impact.
One of the main benefits of a professional website monitoring service is that it provides you with an automated artificial intelligence that can manage big data and learn from the information it receives. You don’t have to wait for users to complain or continuously test the site yourself, and, because your business is constantly evolving, it is able to update its algorithm in tandem. These sophisticated technologies not only gather and analyze the data you need to make an informed decision about performance, they provide you with the solutions.
Cyber attacks are a 21st century bane to which all online businesses – big and small – are vulnerable. Of increasing concern is that at many companies, it can take months before a data breach is detected, giving cyber criminals plenty of time to ravage their victims’ systems. AlertBot can’t prevent a data breach but it can alert you when you’re attacked, e.g. by notifying you that files have been changed or your site has inexplicably gone down.
OSTRICH – Customer complaints
Negative social media posts can be harsh on a business’s reputation. Often, it may appear unfair, especially when the trolls join the battle to bring you down. Sure, you need a team to monitor social media channels and publicly appease customers (including the trolls) who have issues, but that’s not enough. An external website monitoring service can give you advance warning of problems with your system.
Customer Experience (CX) is not just about the latest trends – mobile first, conversational brands, emotional engagement, predictive analytics and personalization, etc.; CX is about serving customer needs and wants (read: demands) BEFORE they start complaining. Once your website starts exhibiting dinosaur or tortoise characteristics because you’ve been acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand, it is too late; all you will have is reminders of your ex-customers’ public vents still floating around on complaints forums and social media channels.
The Amazon debacle should be a wake-up call for businesses to be more proactive with regard to monitoring the uptime and infrastructure of their systems. Imagine how red your company’s face would be if you don’t notice a crisis before your users do and you have to be informed by irate calls and emails from them.
A monitoring tool like AlertBot simulates actual user behaviors and interactions, and runs tests using popular web browsers like Chrome and Firefox in real-time. It’s easy to set up (no installation necessary) and allows you to create scripts for different user experiences across multiple devices, using multiple features and functions, enabling you to be proactive at the best of times, and timeously reactive at the worst (after all, accidents do happen.)