What is End User Experience Monitoring?

Aternity June 30, 2021

End user experience monitoring (EUEM) refers to software tools that allow teams to evaluate the impact of an application or device performance from the perspective of the people who are using it most often, known as the end users.

To understand the need for end user experience monitoring, let’s look at an example. YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world. In fact, it has the Alexa website ranking of #2 in global engagement. When you start playing a video and it buffers, you close the video or even close the YouTube website or mobile app. It has happened to almost all of us at some point. Over the course of time, YouTube engineers developed strong algorithms and encoding techniques to provide a smooth streaming experience even in high latency, slow, and congested networks in the developing world. YouTube is among the top used applications in countries like India with a massive user base.

The example of YouTube is a testament to the need for end user experience monitoring (EUEM) and how it can be critical in the reach our website or application can obtain. Without proper EUEM, YouTube would have never figured out the problems with video streaming, and therefore, they wouldn’t have worked towards the solutions. At the same time, another video platform leveraging EUEM and developing solutions for those issues could have beaten YouTube in the marketplace by providing a better experience for its end users.

EUEM can give us data and insights into how users actually use an application or device. Let’s take a closer look at end user experience monitoring, how it’s conducted, and how businesses can gain advantages by leveraging it.

What is End User Experience Monitoring?

EUEM is the process of analyzing the user experience and performance of your application or website from the perspective of the end user who uses it regularly. It provides insights into how users are using the application, what impediments users face, and the optimal solutions. In the YouTube example mentioned above, if EUEM was not done, they would not have developed algorithms and techniques that will aid in the smooth streaming of video, even in the parts of the world that have poor network connectivity. This is an important factor that helped YouTube become the streaming giant it has become today.

Far from when YouTube started operations, users expect richer and resource-heavy content from developers and content creators today. This places upward pressure on the need for higher bandwidth. The user experience will deteriorate when rich media is delivered over a poor network, and constant end user experience monitoring and continuous improvement is a must.

EUEM can be broadly conducted in three ways. They are:

  • Synthetic transaction monitoring
  • JavaScript injection
  • Real user monitoring
  • Device performance monitoring

We’ll take a closer look at each of these methods below.

Synthetic Transaction Monitoring

As the name indicates, synthetic transaction monitoring is a synthetic monitoring technique. Automated scripts are used to analyze the performance of your website or application. Scripts are coded that attempt to mimic how a user interacts with your application. The response time, lag, and various other interactions are logged and measured using the script.

Since synthetic transaction monitoring is not how a real user interacts with your application, but the best possible replica, there are certain limitations to it. Still, it can provide valuable data and insights into the performance of your application. Synthetic transaction monitoring can also be used to check whether the application is running as intended. The script can verify the running of the application and report if the application is down. It can also create reports if the application has any quirks that deviate from the expected behavior. It can also be used as part of automated testing procedures.

JavaScript Injection

In this method of EUEM, your web application will insert JavaScript code in the user’s browser to track and monitor the activities of the user within the application. The script will also have the ability to call a third-party application that has tracking features. The script will be able to monitor and track the end user experience.

The major difference between synthetic transaction monitoring and JavaScript injection is that the latter tracks the usage of real users, not a simulation of users. One thing this method of EUEM is lacks is the ability to monitor the user’s device, meaning you will not be able to gain any insight into the performance of the device through JavaScript injection.

Real User Monitoring

In this case, monitoring is done with a EUEM application installed on the user’s device or through the analysis of network-based packets that can be captured by the application. The packets captured can be of HTTP/HTTPS/TCP protocols. Here again, the usage of the real user is tracked, not a script mimicking a user as in synthetic transaction monitoring.

Though real user monitoring provides data related to the end user experience, it cannot capture what happens on the screen or the time it takes for content to render on screen. JavaScript injection is the best method for that. This method of analyzing user network packages only works for web-based applications and will not work with native applications. A combination of JavaScript injection and real user monitoring provides far greater insights.

Device Performance Monitoring

DPM creates agents that have the ability to monitor the status and performance of the end user’s device. The agents can track the metric provided by the operating systems, such as the health of the device, sensor data, state of the user’s device, and other device information. Some agents can also track information on other applications in the user’s device.

EUEM is used to track the behavior of your application’s end users, providing insights into the way users are using your application. EUEM tools can also be used for testing purposes. It’s a vital process to ensure that an application is meeting user’s expectations and supporting the processes it’s designed to support.