Tracking your website performance with a RUM (Real User Measurement) tool like Torbit Insight is a critical first step for all websites. It’s impossible to know how your site is performing without tracking it regularly and RUM is one of the best ways to do this.
Once you have a baseline idea of how your site is performing using the standard metrics like Page Ready and Page Load it can be extremely valuable to start using your own site specific events to track performance. For instance, maybe “Above the fold” time or the time that it takes for users to be able to interact with the sidebar navigation is actually a more significant performance metric to track with your visitors. Steve Souders recently posted about the importance of moving beyond “window.onload()” and we couldn’t agree more. This is why we’re proud to announce the addition of custom event tracking in Torbit Insight.
With custom events, you can instrument your page to track any relevant timing metric and see all the same reports you know and love in Torbit Insight. The simplest example is tracking a different load time metric (something other than Page Load or Page Ready, which are included by default) – for example “Sidebar loaded”. To add tracking for this custom event, you’d simply need to add the following code snippet at the point in the page where you consider the sidebar to be fully loaded.
So start tracking your own custom events and get an even better view into your site’s performance and how it’s impacting your business. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get custom events added to your Insight account.
It wasn’t that long ago when anyone looking for Real User Measurement (RUM) had to implement it themselves. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. As the RUM space gets more crowded, I thought it might be valuable to make a list of 10 things you should consider when choosing a RUM provider.
1: Ability to correlate your site speed with revenue
Site speed = $$. One of the most powerful things you can do with RUM is show the correlation between your site speed and your business metrics like your bounce rate, conversion rate and revenue. No RUM product is complete without the ability to go to your boss with a case study showing how much performance matters for your business.
2: 100% sampling rate
Every pageview matters. Processing data from billions of pageviews is hard. Many people don’t want to deal with that much data and choose to sample instead. Google Analytics collects some limited performance data, but their default sampling rate is 1%! Behind every pageview statistic is a story – a story of a potential customer, on the brink of clicking away because your site is too slow! You want a RUM provider that understands that every pageview matters and will track you performance data across 100% of your visitors.
3: Percentiles and histograms
Averages lie.Averages can be very misleading when looking at performance data. I regularly see websites with an average load time of 4 seconds, while 10% of their visitors are experiencing 20 second load times! If you believe every pageview matters, you’ll probably agree that 20 second load times aren’t okay. To really understand what is happening on your site, you need to be analyzing your top percentiles and looking at a histogram breakdown.
Live in the moment. It’s not very helpful if you find our tomorrow that your site was slow today. I recently talked to a top news site that used our realtime feature to catch a bad deploy. They didn’t have synthetic tests set up on the affected page, so Keynote reported that everything was fine. Only because they had our real time graph on a wall monitor were they able to catch the issue right away and revert the slow code.
5: Total browser coverage
6: Drilldown capabilities
Actionable data. Our slowest pages tab not only gives developers a prioritized todo list, but also gives actionable suggestions on what to fix. Want to know how fast your site loads in IE 6? Or compare your site speed in NY to your speed in SF? Drilldown capabilities are crucial for doing in-depth analysis. We’ve actually had customers build new data centers after digging into their performance data and realizing how much even a 1-second speed up was worth to them. RUM is great as an analytics tool. It’s best when it drives actionable decisions.
7: Long term data retention
Commitment. At Torbit, we’ll keep your data safe forever. Believe it or not, some analytics tools actually throw your data away over time. The data gets expensive to store over time, so they just toss it out. But what if you want to compare your site speed today to your site speed a year ago? Personally, I want to know that my data is being stored securely and will be available, no matter how far in the future I end up needing it.
8: Support for A/B testing
Measure then optimize. It’s very powerful to be able to test the performance implications of a new feature with your actual visitors. One of the most common uses of Torbit Insight is to evaluate CDN performance. Wayfair used Torbit Insight to discover that Akamai was not delivering a meaningful improvement to their site speed and shared the results on the Wayfair blog.
9: Affordable price
How about free? At Torbit, we’re really passionate about making the web faster. We believe the first step in achieving our mission is to help people get their hands on accurate performance data. We’ve worked hard to make sure our free plan includes tons of useful functionality. If at some point, you choose to upgrade to a paid plan, great! If not, that’s fine too.
10: Proven team and proven product
Don’t get left behind. The idea of RUM has been around for a while, but adoption has only recently started to pick up. We live in a fast changing environment. I personally believe we have only scratched the surface of what is possible with RUM. Resource Timing is already available in IE 10 and will be rolling out to other browsers soon. Make sure you pick a product built by a proven team that you can trust to stay on the cutting edge as new technology is available.
Torbit is used by hundreds of sites including multi-billion dollar corporations, top retailers and leading media properties. Our Insight product has been battle tested with billions of performance metrics. We started Torbit with an audacious mission and we’re dedicated to seeing it through. We live to make the web faster. In spite of all the improvements in browser technology and faster connection speeds, websites are slower than ever. As we head into 2013, I hope you’ll join us in pursing a faster internet for everyone.
Jonathan Klein from Wayfair wrote a post a few weeks ago about using WebPageTest to measure the performance of their CDN. The results were surprising. Wayfair found that their CDN was delivering minimal performance gains. As you would expect, the post generated a lot of lively discussion with lots of ideas about different variables that could be affecting the outcome of the test. Several people (myself included) recommended they use Real User Measurement to see how much of an improvement their actual visitors are experiencing.
Last week, Klein posted the results from the Real User Measurement test. After using the tagging feature of our Insight product to run an A/B on their production site, the results told much the same story as the synthetic test. Wayfair saw no major performance improvement due to the use of a CDN.
The results of these two tests are quite surprising. A CDN is a well known tool that will improve the performance of most websites. You can’t change the speed of light, but you can make sure your content is delivered from servers closer to your visitors. Although disappointed with the results, Klein was careful to point out other benefits of using a CDN. Klein said the ability to offload origin bandwidth and tolerate traffic spikes was enough to justify the cost of their CDN.
Performance guru, Steve Souders took a look at the results and reminded people in the comments that:
There are numerous performance best practices. Not all of them apply to every site. But that doesn’t mean the best practice is bad – it just might not be relevant at that time for that particular site.
Souders was able to trace the problem back to several large images that are being loaded from their CDN, but appear to be taking far longer than expected to load. I’m confident Wayfair will be able to take this data to their CDN and get this particular issue resolved. Many sites like Wayfair are spending thousands of dollars on their CDN, but have never taken the time to really evaluate what sort of performance gains they are receiving for their money. I love that Jonathan was willing to set up this test and share the results with the world. It’s a great example of how you can use Real User Measurement to keep your vendors accountable for the performance gains they promise.
Using Torbit Insight, Wayfair was able to set up this test and get meaningful data back in very short period of time. It’s a great example of how easy it is to use our tagging feature to do a performance-related A/B test. If you haven’t already, be sure to read Jonathan Klein’s full post for all the details on how he conducted the experiment. For anyone else interested in conducting a similar test, send us a note, we’d love to help.
In the last few months since we launched Torbit Insight, hundreds of top retailers and large media properties have adopted Real User Measurement on their sites. In fact, we’ve measured over 3 billion page views for retailers like Wayfair, CafePress and Build.com. As we’ve had the privilege of working with some of the largest sites around, we’ve noticed an ongoing trend. Our customers are starting to depend on the Real User Measurement (RUM) data we give them as their primary source for monitoring their website performance.
Performance measurement has traditionally been done using synthetic testing (sometimes also referred to as active monitoring). Synthetic testing is when you load a website on a regular interval from one or more locations around the world to see how fast it loads. This data is then used to generate reports or trigger alarms when there are performance issues with your site. While synthetic testing is certainly useful, hundreds of top sites are turning to Real User Measurement as a source of more accurate data.
While Synthetic testing is valuable for deep analysis and debugging, it has a few short comings. With synthetic testing you only get visibility into the specific pages that you test. This is typically a small fraction of the pages your customers actually visit, leaving you with large sections of your site without monitoring. Synthetic testing gets expensive, especially if you try and increase your coverage to more pages across your site. You’re also putting more stress on your servers, taking valuable capacity away from your actual visitors. Of course, the main problem with synthetic testing is that it makes so many assumptions about your visitors. There are dozens of factors that affect the speed at which someone is able to access your site. Where are they geographically located? What is their connection speed? Which browser are they using? Are they visiting for the first time, or are they a repeat visitor? All of these variables affect the loading experience for your visitors. If you want to know what your visitors are actually experiencing, you have to use Real User Measurement.
It’s impossible to test every variation of location, network connection speed, OS, browser & add-on. That’s not to say synthetic testing is bad. There’s a place for both.
There are a few key factors that are accelerating the adoption of Real User Measurement. We now have the web timing spec support in all of the major browsers. This allows us to collect highly accurate timing data from the browser itself, starting even before the page is loaded. This allows us to time things like DNS lookups and the time it takes to do the TCP handshake. One of the challenges of implementing RUM in the past has been simply the massive amount of data that it generates. With the explosion of “big data” tools, it’s now feasible to collect billions of samples and make sense of them. Thankfully, you don’t have to build it yourself, we offer a great Real User Measurement tool at Torbit and we even made it free for people to get started.
Every visitor matters. If your site is slow, chances are you are leaving visitors and revenue on the table. The first step in making your site faster is making sure you have an accurate way to measure your speed.
In the article, I also talked about the importance of using Real User Measurement (RUM) to get an accurate picture of what’s happening on your site. Not only do you have to make sure you are looking at the right metrics, you have to make sure your methodology for collecting your data is correct too.
There’s a big shift happening on the web right now in the way that people measure their websites. People are searching for the truth. People want to look at the real performance numbers from their actual users. Misleading metrics and synthetic tests won’t cut it anymore. You can check out the full article here.
The Internet is a sea of impulses. You never know where you’ll end up or what will catch your eye. It’s not surprising that over 22 percent of Internet users claim to have made an impulsive purchase of some kind in the last year, according to the Association of Customer Research.
Many people don’t think about visitors to the site who ended up on their business’s website on an impulse. Maybe that new visitor clicked a random link when they were inspired and now have found a brand new website, product or service sitting right under their nose.
That’s your visitor now. They might be a future customer, brand advocate or maybe they’ll just be a fan. Don’t lose them due to a slow website!
Take this graph which shows correlation between sale conversion and page speed for one of our customers. Along the X axis are the average load times experienced across a session for each of your visitors. The Y axis is the rate at which they converted to paying customers.
When average load time increased from half a second to one and a half seconds, conversions dropped by over 3%. That’s money, eyeballs and impulses – all lost.
We built Torbit Insight because the available tools on the market weren’t able to provide the information our customers wanted to see. We show you how your conversion rate, bounce rate, engagement, attention and revenue are affected by the performance experienced by every single visitor to your site. Who knows how long someone is going to be on your site. Don’t lose them. And if you did lose them, find out why.
Today, we are proud to announce a new product called Torbit Insight. Torbit Insight is a Real User Measurement (RUM) tool that allows website owners to see the actual loading times for every visitor to their site. The best part is that it also lets you see the correlation between your web page speed and core business metrics like your bounce rate and conversion rate.
For the last year and a half at Torbit we have focused on making the Internet a faster place for everyone. Businesses rely on our Site Optimizer product to make their websites load fast because they understand that page speed is crucial to their bottom line. Now, with the launch of Insight, website owners have an easy tool to evaluate how fast their site is loading and quantify how much performance matters to their business.
Massive websites like Amazon have the statistics to show that a 0.1 second delay in load time can lead to a 1% drop in their sales. But what about everyone else? What do slow load times mean for your business? We wanted to build a tool to show how important speed is for everyone, from top Internet retailers, to media properties, to startups. There was simply nothing out there that tied it all together to help make a business case for web performance.
Torbit Insight uses data that has only recently become available in browsers to show you the speed of each visitor navigating to your website. Rather than rounding everything into an average, we show you key metrics like the median page load speed along with load times of the 90th, 95th and 99th percentiles of your visitors. These additional metrics are an important differentiator for Insight since performance data has frequent outliers, and the data can be quite misleading if you only consider averages.
With graphs that correlate page speed to your bounce rate as well as conversion rates, Torbit Insight helps you understand in real-time where your site is slow and why. We’ll show you where your visitors are coming from and suggest optimizations that can be made on the front-end to drastically increase your website’s performance.
Dozens of top sites across the Internet are already using Insight, including top retailers like Wayfair and large media properties like the Cheezburger Network. Recently we made a video with Jonathan Klein who leads the performance team at Wayfair. Here is what he had to say:
Today, we’re rolling out Insight with three plans: Free, Standard and Premium. We’ve worked hard to build this product and we’re incredibly excited to get to finally share it with you. We look forward to hearing your feedback as we continue to do everything we can to make the internet a faster and better place for everyone.