No matter your role in your software team, one common goal is to ensure that your end user is having the best possible experience in your web applications. A large part of a great software experience is performance – how fast your pages are loading for example. Being able to drill down into exactly how end users are experiencing your application is one of the best ways of measuring application performance.
But what does success look like to you? How can you help improve UX and get the whole team on the same page about end user expectations? Performance monitoring may look very different across job roles, and getting a clear picture may be getting lost in translation between front end developers, product managers and technical leads. High level charts on page load speed don’t necessarily help developers, while code snippets don’t help product managers.
Pulse Insights (the latest feature update for Pulse Real User Monitoring) can help alleviate that confusion by offering one tool that any team member can quickly access tailored, up to date information on website performance issues.
We asked our different members of our team exactly how they use Pulse Insights to get the peace of mind they need around performance in the following job roles:
- Front end developer
- Product manager
- Technical lead
Let’s start with the front end developer:
As a front end developer, you spend most of your time in the thick of the codebase implementing performance tweaks and fixes. You care deeply about your end users. Pulse Insights gives you an easy way to see individual resources causing issues, fix issues across multiple pages and improve performance and prioritize fixes. Here’s how:
See the individual resources causing an issue
When it comes to improving the performance of a page knowing why it is slow to begin with is half the battle. Pulse Insights uses a set of 22 rules based on Yahoo’s performance indicators (YSlow) plus 12 of Raygun’s own rules to crawl pages on your web application. Pulse Insights then reveals which pages have passed or failed these rules. You are also provided with a list of resources which can cause a rule to trigger, which are organized into failed, passed and ignored categories:
As a front end developer, you have the benefit of easily finding the root cause of issues before you have to open up your code editor. This reduces time spent searching projects for the elusive resource before even finding out if that was causing the problem or not.
Fix issues across multiple pages
Not all rules are made equal. Some are easier to implement than others and affect a wider portion of your website. Fixing issues across the whole website is much more time effective as you will fix multiple pages at once. This is where the ‘Rules’ tab of Pulse Insights comes into action. From here, you can view the rules that are failing across the whole website and fix the highest volume:
Improve the performance of the pages that matter
While fixing site-wide issues can give you the most bang for your buck, there are times when you need a prioritize fixes on important pages. Pulse Insights allows you to monitor specific pages for issues:
Ben, Raygun’s front end developer uses Pulse Insights to speed up the performance of Raygun’s public website on a regular basis. He says:
“Pulse Insights provides me with the ability to monitor performance rules and ensure they are being followed. If a page is failing, I can quickly see why and make the fix. With the ability to dig deep into the heart of the issue using the Rules tab, I can get deeper insights to prevent issues from reoccurring.”
As a product manager, you are responsible for ensuring the product is meeting the goals set out on your roadmap. Communication with the design and development team is essential, and discovering performance issues may involve building a picture from other managers, developers and customers.
Pulse Insights helps you to build an accurate picture of your website performance without consulting third parties – you can check at the click of a button. Identify high value pages, rank issues b difficulty and monitor trends over time:
Identify high value, slow pages
Pulse Insights enables you to quickly identify the pages which aren’t performing well on the main dashboard:
In the screenshot above, each page is assigned a score from 1 – 100, then organized by the number of page views. Having fast access to this information is invaluable for planning product updates to the pages that matter the most.
In another case, if a number of customers are experiencing slow load times for a particular page, you can open up the page in Pulse Insights and have your development team quickly look into fixing the issues:
Easily rank issues by their difficulty
Pulse Insights determines performance issues by passing your web pages through a set of 22 rules. Each rule is assigned a difficulty rating of either one, two or three as indicated by the wrenches. This rating system provides product managers with a quick indication of how hard it would be to implement a fix for a particular rule. For example, minifying scripts is relatively easy since there are a number of tools to automate this process for you, whereas updating scripts to use the async attribute requires manual work to ensure that any dependencies load and it doesn’t break your existing website.
Being able to rank rules by their difficulty allows product managers to better review, plan and prioritize improvements before going to the development team to implement. Using this ranking feature reduces the friction between the development team and the manager since not all product managers have a development background.
Monitor the issue trend over time
Sites are being constantly updated. Whether these are performance improvements, bug fixes or additional features, development is constantly going on in the background. Pulse Insights crawls your website once a week, then offers high level charts to monitor the how many rules were passed vs. how many rules were failed:
This gives product managers the control to see where their performance improvements are taking place, how much of an improvement is being made when deploying those fixes, or when issues start to creep into your site.
Zheng, Raygun’s Product Manager, uses Pulse Insights to get an accurate image of performance issues affecting the website as a whole, whilst using data pulled from the site crawls provides a reliable indicator of which performance fixes have the biggest impact on our website user experience. Zheng says:
“Pulse Insights allows me to see the issues that are influencing our customer’s purchasing behaviour (which pages are not performing and whether it is a site wide or isolated issue). It also gives me a list of performance optimization tasks by priority (biggest bang for our buck), which is great for when I’m prioritizing with our engineering team.”
After juggling meetings between various members of the development team, assigning tasks and a wide range of other jobs, as a team leader you need to have information on how your application is performing easily accessible in an easy to decipher format. You’ll need to be able to dig deeper into the issue if needed and get up to date information on how your web application is performing without having to disturb your development team. Pulse Insights gives technical leads this information quickly and in a digestible format, plus the option to dig deeper into the issue if needed:
Dig deep into the issue
Before assigning a developer to improve a particular page it occasionally helps to learn why the page is slow. Pulse Insights allows anyone to dig into the heart of an issue.
After viewing the high level data you can then dig into the resources which caused the rule’s failure in the first place.
This allows you to scope out the true extent of the damage before spending time going down a rabbit hole and coming out the other end with nothing to show for it.
Weekly scans monitoring your site performance
Within your team, many developers may have access to applications code and also have the ability to deploy updates. Ensuring introduced issues from these stages are fixed promptly is key. With Pulse Insights, your website is scanned every week providing you with a weekly email showing any changes from the last scan. Technical leads have the ability to quickly resolve newly introduced issues before they become a legacy issue. Pulse Insights also integrates with Slack and HipChat, through which weekly reports are sent in a digestible format:
Jeremy, our Chief of Engineering at Raygun, has many responsibilities, so doesn’t have time for lengthy updates on performance issues. Here is how he uses Pulse Insights:
“I trust my team to make decisions and fixes without my constant input. Using Pulse Insights frees my time as I can check the health of our web application easily without disturbing my team. Pulse Insights also provides me with the information I need to prioritze work in our backlog. The best part is I don’t need to ask my team to manually crawl our website for issues, and there’s no need to analyse reams of data – Pulse Insights tells you what to do to fix a page. That gives me confidence and peace of mind that our customers are getting the best possible user experience.”
Use Pulse Insights for better application performance
No matter what your role, Pulse Insights gives you the information on web application performance you need quickly. There’s no need for departments to go backwards and forwards with issues and fixes, or for your team to manually check for poor performing pages.
Pulse Insights is the latest feature addition to Pulse Real User Monitoring. Give your entire software team visibility with Pulse Insights. Take a free 14 day trial here.