Monitoring the performance of your websites and applications is essential for business success. The most popular forms of monitoring that you may have heard of are Real User Monitoring and Synthetic Transaction Monitoring. But how do they measure up against one another, and which is the right choice for your business?
Real User Monitoring vs Synthetic Transaction Monitoring: What Exactly Are They?
The simplest way to describe the difference between these two forms of website performance monitoring is to call Synthetic Transaction Monitoring ‘active’ while Real User Monitoring is ‘passive.’
Synthetic Transaction Monitoring deploys behavioral scripts to simulate user activity over your website or application. They are fully scripted in advance, and then deployed as a way of testing what would happen in certain scenarios.
In comparison, Real User Monitoring is always on, in the background, passively collecting information about every step of the user journey on your website or application. It is entirely based on real activity, and as such, gives you a 360° view of the customers unique journey, and the entire IT technology stack.
When Should I Use Synthetic Transaction Monitoring?
There are some great things about Synthetic Transaction Monitoring, including the ability to prepare ahead of time for a new product or feature launch, and get some idea of the problems your customers might face once you go live. For high traffic websites, it can be invaluable to see what a large spike in traffic is going to do to your site, and set up benchmarking scenarios against your competition in the industry. As everything is a simulation, this style of monitoring allows businesses to test and adapt outside of ‘crisis mode’, taking their time and troubleshooting before customers are involved.
When Should I Use Real User Monitoring?
Synthetic Transaction Monitoring can only take you so far. In recent years, Real User Monitoring has become the website performance tool of choice for a number of reasons.
Real User Monitoring drills down into the granular detail of what your specific users are experiencing using your website or application. This can help you discover underlying UX issues with the support of metrics such as load and connection times, transaction performance, response times and precise problem visibility and isolation, whether it originates from your own business, or even third-party scripts. It can help you proactively solve customer problems before they even reach for the phone.
This method also helps with business strategy in a more real way than any synthetic monitoring can ever hope to achieve. Take a simple metric like what devices your users are coming to your website from. If you see that a growing percentage are visiting from mobile devices, you may decide to tweak your budget in the direction of a revamp to your mobile app rather than a desktop website refresh. As Real User Monitoring tools can track browser versions, geo locations, connection types, network latency, network providers and operating systems for a start, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Learning how real visitors are interacting with your site, keeping track of the performance of third-party applications and scripts, and having a real-time window into your CX are all must-have features for todays business bottom line.