End-user experience monitoring

By UserTesting | January 19, 2024
A laptop screen shows a set of metrics used to track end-user engagement.

When it comes to digital experiences, users are raising their expectations. Digital product teams of today need to focus heavily on creating a seamless user experience to stay ahead of competitors. For teams to build products that directly address a user's pain points and deliver exceptional online experiences, end-user experience monitoring is a must.

Defining end-user experience monitoring

End-user experience monitoring (EUEM) is a method used to measure and evaluate the interaction between a user and the technology they're interacting with. The concept is most relevant with digital products, where a user's experience is significantly impacted by how the product performs and how easy it is to navigate.

Traditional monitoring tools focused on networks and application monitoring. EUEM is different because it digs into diverse user experience metrics to uncover insights across the user journey.

Types of end-user experience monitoring

All the methods involved in EUEM fall into two major categories: those that track qualitative data, and those that track quantitative data.

Utilizing all the types of EUEM may be overwhelming, and even excessive, but you can narrow down your options by aligning them with your overall user experience goals.

Application performance monitoring (APM)

Application performance monitoring solutions provide real-time monitoring and tracking of software performance, allowing teams to quickly identify, diagnose, and repair any problems that could negatively affect the user experience. The method is ideal when software performance is poor, when releasing new features, or when reducing downtime.

All that's required is a line of code embedded within the application, and you get access to round-the-clock tracking of software performance metrics. All the data is then funneled into a centralized dashboard for easy analysis. APM lets teams get quick insights into product performance under multiple conditions and environments.

Real user monitoring (RUM)

Real user monitoring, or RUM, tracks real-time user interactions with your product. The method is simple and effective, appealing to a large audience. Using JavaScript injection, you add a small amount of code into your application to get insights into how real users navigate and use your product.

The JavaScript injection collects metrics like how many clicks you get on your site, page load times, and scrolling behavior. The information allows product teams to build strategies and implement changes based on users' preferences. The end product is a tool built directly for users that improves your digital experience.

Synthetic monitoring

Unlike RUM, where you get a real look into user behavior, synthetic monitoring uses scripts and bots to simulate user interactions with your digital product. An advantage of using synthetic monitoring over RUM is the amount of control you have over the tests.

You can manipulate environments to test your product against different conditions and see its performance. This method is best when you want to find issues with your software before they affect real users, like when releasing a new product or feature for SaaS applications. It's also helpful in setting performance benchmarks as it provides tangible business outcomes you can use to compare with the user's experience.

Transaction monitoring

This type of monitoring collects data on the individual transactions within your digital product. Transactions are recorded whenever a user logs into your platform, adds items to a shopping cart, or signs up for a membership. You and your team can use this data to identify bottlenecks within the user journey and optimize your workflows accordingly.

Consider transaction monitoring when you have a hypothesis you want to test about a specific part of the user experience. For example, assume you want to increase signups for a webinar. You'll use transaction monitoring to track button clicks from your ads to your landing pages to signups for your webinar. You may uncover that a button isn't working correctly on your landing page, helping your team make the necessary corrections quickly and effectively.

API monitoring

Many of today's digital products use APIs to allow one software to communicate and share data with another. This increases functionality but adds another level of complexity that can cause errors. As the name suggests, API monitoring tracks and monitors end-user API performance to ensure any errors are quickly resolved.

When social media reviews are directly embedded into a site, an API is responsible for sharing data. When users sign up for an email list, an API is likely used to track and manage the customer relationship data. APIs are the backbone of a digital product, and breaks in functionality can ruin the end user's experience.

The benefits of end-user experience monitoring

Establishing an efficient and effective end-user experience monitoring process has several benefits that build better digital products and help your team thrive.

Improved user satisfaction

The primary goal of EUEM is to make the user happy while using your product. The process combs through various types of user interaction data to expose areas that need improvement. Users may be frustrated with slow loading times, or that particular features are confusing or unnecessary.

Whatever the case may be, EUEM allows you to identify these issues quickly and allow your team to make adjustments. This could involve enhancing current features, eliminating underutilized ones, or creating new functionalities based on user behavior. As you succeed in developing a product that effectively addresses all the pain points of your audience, you will enhance user satisfaction and create products that capture the undivided attention of your customers.

Increased productivity

EUEM not only aids your team in making precise adjustments to address customer issues and improves internal productivity. The process dives into the exact issues of your users and where they encounter difficulties, allowing your team to make informed decisions about where to focus your team's efforts.

API and application performance monitoring are most valuable when looking to increase productivity. Both methods focus on your team's current processes and tools and provide clear guidance on solutions. Given a clear system like EUEM that organizes user data into actionable steps, your team becomes more productive by allocating resources efficiently.

Reduced downtime and costs

Anytime you gather and collect data on how your users interact with your product, you open up possibilities to solve issues before they become more significant problems. With EUEM, your team has the advantage of a constant monitoring system always looking for errors or mistakes. This lets you quickly identify performance issues and address them before they escalate, reducing downtime.

Enhanced security

By monitoring user activity and application usage patterns, you can detect any unusual behavior that could indicate a cyberattack or data breach. For instance, if a user is accessing sensitive information more frequently than usual or from an unknown location, EUEM will alert you immediately.

Utilizing synthetic monitoring helps your team identify vulnerabilities within your system that are susceptible to cyberattacks or abusive user behavior. EUEM holds users accountable to your security policies and protocols. If any non-compliance is detected, you can take corrective actions promptly. This level of control and transparency reduces the risk of internal threats and helps demonstrate compliance with various regulatory standards.

Metrics used in end-user experience monitoring

Your team will make informed decisions during the EUEM process using data collected on user interactions. Strictly what metrics you collect will depend on your organization's goals. For example, if your organization aims to improve website performance, you may focus on metrics such as page load time, user bounce rate, and conversion rates.

Network monitoring

A network is a vital part of your end-user experience. This applies to web and mobile applications, as users rely heavily on network connectivity to interact with digital products. A few metrics that will help uncover network insights are latency, packet loss, and bandwidth usage.

Network latency measures the time data travels from one point in the network to another. A higher latency is an indication you have delays in data transmission. Packet loss refers to the number of data packets sent but never arrive at their destination. High packet loss can result in interrupted services and decreased overall network performance. Bandwidth usage measures the amount of data that can be transferred over the network in a given time period. The higher the number, the quicker data is transmitted, improving the overall end-user experience.

Web application monitoring

Web application errors can destroy your product's reputation and scare future customers away from ever using it. Tracking errors using key metrics like page load time, throughput, and error rates will keep your application running smoothly and keep customers returning.

Page loading times are relatively straightforward and measure how long it takes for a web page to load. Since users prefer spending only a few seconds on load times, optimizing your application so it appears instantly for users is imperative. Throughput is another way of saying the number of requests your web application processes over time. Dramatic swings in this category signify problems in your infrastructure or increased user traffic. Error rates keep track of the number of errors that occur during a specific time period. High error rates could indicate problems with your code, server, or third-party services that need immediate attention.

Device performance monitoring

In today's digital world, nearly every person has a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other device to access applications and websites. These devices have varying specifications that impact the overall end-user experience. You want your digital product to handle any environment, so metrics like CPU usage, memory usage, and battery drain are integral to monitor.

CPU usage measures how much of a device's processing power is used by your application. If the value is too high, it can lead to slow performance and overheating issues. Memory usage tracks how much RAM your application uses on a device. High memory consumption can cause crashes or forced closures of your application. Battery drain is crucial for mobile applications as users don't want their battery life significantly impacted by using your app.

Digital experience monitoring

A seemingly endless amount of data points can be collected when monitoring user interactions. Every stage of the user journey has dozens of metrics that can be used, from sign-ups to purchases. Some of the most helpful to track are click-through rate, bounce rate, and session duration.

Click-through rates (CTR) represent the number of users who click on a specific element compared to the total number who view it. A low CTR means you must rethink your page's design, copy, or structure. The bounce rate indicates the percentage of users who visit your site and leave without interacting further. A high bounce rate could suggest your site needs to be more engaging or meet user expectations. Session duration shows how long users are spending with your digital product. Short durations mean the product needs to be more engaging.

What's next

Let's dissect the Lean UX process by exploring key components such as continuous discovery, shared user experience understanding, and more.

About the author(s)

With UserTesting’s on-demand platform, you uncover ‘the why’ behind customer interactions. In just a few hours, you can capture the critical human insights you need to confidently deliver what your customers want and expect.