In this lesson, we take you through the Web Application Monitoring basics: what is Web Application Monitoring, why use Web Application Monitoring, what you can monitor, and your options for monitor setup. You seasoned transaction pros, you may want to just skip ahead to the recording/scripting lesson.

What is Web Application Monitoring?

We have a detailed description in our Knowledge Base for you to peruse. However, in a nutshell:

Web Application Monitoring is a synthetic monitor or bot that performs user actions on a website or web application at regularly scheduled intervals. The monitor uses a web browser (just like your users do) to verify that the site or application works properly and performs well.

So, pretty much, any transaction a user can make on your site using a browser, a Web Application Monitor can do the same thing on regular intervals. Web Application Monitoring checks your site around the clock seven days a week. On the chance that the transaction errors or takes too long, Uptrends' alerting system gives you a heads up.

Why monitor your web applications?

As we discussed above, a Web Application Monitor tests your web transactions to make sure everything is hunky-dory. But why would you want to monitor transactions, after all, you will notice if things go haywire, right? Sure, you will notice, eventually, but what damage is done to user confidence and reputation in the meantime?

The high cost of slow and failing web applications

If your website or service fails to operate properly, your users just switch to your competitors (lots of those out there).  Not only do they switch to a competitor, a lot of them never come back.

Failing Web Applications cost you more in future revenue than they do in immediate revenue.

For example, Akamai reported that performance alone is enough to cause 28% of users that abandoned a site to never come back. After all, how confident would you be to give your personal information to a brand when their application is glitchy and slow?

By watching your transactions with Web Application Monitoring, you know immediately when there is a problem. You can jump in and fix it before it affects your users.

More can go wrong than you think

Some companies check their transactions sporadically throughout the workday, but what happens after staff goes home at night? Sure, your peak hours may be over, but shouldn't your application work during non-peak hours? Your workday ends, but your site is working 24 hours a day. (Yo, 24-hour economy!) Many different things may go wrong that you may not notice if you're not monitoring 24/7. 24-hour checks may alert you too several problems

  • Slow loading pages and transactions due to early morning inventory updates or other backend processes. Processes that happen when you hope your users won't notice (but they do).
  • External dependencies that don't work correctly:
    • Business owners: Product inventory updates, price calculations, and ordering systems.
    • System integrations: Third-party payment providers, Google Maps integrations, SharePoint/Office365 integrations, and external calculation modules.
    • E-commerce and web analytics: User behavior trackers, Google Analytics, and advertisement systems.
    Although these third-party dependencies seem like add-ons, downtime, slow performance, or bad behavior of external systems can affect your overall performance and even break the display and behaviors of your pages.

What kind of transactions can I monitor?

A better question is, “What kind of transactions CAN’T I monitor with Web Application Monitoring.” Here are a few examples of transactions you may want to consider monitoring for performance and function.

General transactions:

  • Login/logoff
  • Password reset request
  • Search
  • Modify account settings

E-commerce/webshops:

  • Shopping cart (adding/removing items)
  • Shipping details (address verification, location services)
  • Payments

Booking:

  • Reservations
  • Appointments

SaaS applications:

  • Custom forms and user interactions
  • Report generation
  • User forums
  • Chat services

Do I have to be a computer programmer to understand and set up my web application monitors?

It certainly helps, but your skills and knowledge about your apps and services can take you a long way even if you're not a developer.

In the next lesson, we help you sort out your transactions and monitoring needs. Once you've got a good idea of what you want to monitor, you're ready to record and upload your transactions with our Transaction Recorder. Once recorded, you have two options. One, you can choose to edit your scripts yourself in our handy Step Editor. (It doesn't hurt to try, and you might surprise yourself.) Two, you can upload the recording to support and our transaction gurus test and refine the script for you.