IDG Contributor Network: How to monitor and improve site speed performance

For any consumer-facing application, site speed is an important element of the overall user experience, which extends to all platforms where your app is available, including the web, iOS, and Android. Studies have shown that site speed impacts user engagement, revenue, and other key business metrics. What steps can you put in place to ensure your page load time (PLT) stays within the desired threshold?

It’s important to note that performance has a tendency to degrade over time—this is something we’ve experienced firsthand at LinkedIn. These degradations are not usually dramatic, single-event occurrences; after all, steps like A/B testing or canary analysis are designed to catch those types of flaws prior to production rollout. Rather, site slowdowns tend to occur over a period of time due to smaller-scale latency leaks: little changes in code, browser configurations, or other areas that add up over time.

The following steps can help you identify and plug latency leaks so that your site performance stays consistent and the user experience remains positive.

Build good back-end monitoring

This should be the first line of defense against performance degradations and is also probably the most commonly implemented. When developers are writing code, they should build in back-end monitoring to measure their code’s performance in a production environment. This helps catch issues that can be solved with code-design optimizations like caching and capacity planning.

While this step is important as a baseline, it generally isn’t sufficient by itself to catch all performance degradations because it doesn’t measure client-side activities such as page rendering. To fully understand the user experience, you need to move outside the data center walls.

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Synthetic client monitoring

Synthetic client monitoring is a service offered by third-party providers that test your application across a variety of controlled devices, in various configurations, to help catch client-side issues. It can be useful as an indicator of client-side site speed problems because it gives you an idea of how your code performs on real devices.



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