Have you ever wanted to go beyond measuring Speed Index or page load, and instead measure a specific event like when an ad is displayed or when a 3rd party script has loaded? Today we are happy to announce that Rigor now supports the User Timing API. In this post, we will discuss what User Timings are, why they are important, as well as other improvements we made to Rigor in order to help you better track and trend the metrics that matter most to you and your business.
Why do we need User Timings?
At Rigor, we dub ourselves “web perfectionists”, always hot on the pursuit of making the web a faster place for all. As such, we’re often asked, “what are the most important metrics to measure my site’s performance?” At one time this may have been the central performance question; however, web performance has grown more sophisticated and nuanced over the past several years and the answer is not as straightforward as it once was.
In the past, the focus was on a set of popular web-standard metrics such as the time to first byte, or the total page load time. But as the web and digital properties matured and became more sophisticated, these metrics became increasingly problematic. So, this initial set of performance metrics was expanded to include such things as start render, visually complete, time to first meaningful paint, and SpeedIndex, which were more representative of how your users are actually interacting on the page.
This evolution into more and more sophisticated and precise metrics has been helpful because we are gaining better insights into the performance and experience of our sites. However, all of these metrics are trying to make assumptions and approximate what may be important to your specific case. Generally speaking, the time it takes for a page to start rendering or how long it takes for the DOM to complete are important to most people. However, maybe you want to know when a specific ad is displayed, or when a certain call-to-action button becomes functional, or how quickly the hero video starts to autoplay. This is where User Timings can provide immense value and be instrumental in your pursuit of performance.
Now with Rigor, you can collect, track, trend, and even alert on these User Timings, let’s take a look at an example.
Monitoring 3rd Party Ads with User Timings
One of the most common issues Digital publishers face is the challenge of providing a fast website with an excellent user experience that keeps users on their site, while also displaying third-party ads for online revenue. Ad performance has historically been a pain point for digital publishers because it can result in large losses for ad revenue. How can we track the performance of different 3rd party ads on the site?
With User Timings, this is easy! We can inject custom marks and measures around events on your page to increases the scale, flexibility, and relevance of web performance analytics.
Specifically, we can mark the exact moment the embedded tag for an ad unit is executed, starting the process of bidding for and displaying an ad. We can mark when the ad is actually displayed as well! This lets us collect timing information for the entire process. In the screenshot below, you can see we have collected multiple timings around ad bidding and rendering while loading a popular media site.
Once you collect these User Timings, you are going to want to graph them. With our completely revamped Performance KPI report, you can graph that data to see how those user timing metrics are changing over time.
You can even set thresholds for these User Timings so you can fail a check and get alerted when performance drops below acceptable levels. User Timings allows you to gain the performance insights that most resonate with your business objectives.
Make sense of performance data in more powerful ways
This new release also enables users to analyze performance data in more powerful ways than ever before. Under the covers, we completely changed the way we store and aggregate performance data. This enables us to provide a much more advanced and capable Performance Graph. You can now filter out failed runs, compare multiple checks, and even filter by geography to surface regional problems:
We also offer far more functions to help identify statistically important issues, such as viewing data via the 95th or 99th percentile:
Adding to this flexibility, Rigor understands that teams may use external BI systems, such as DataDog, Splunk, or Tableau, for additional analysis. Thus, we support functionality to export data via CSV file, our API, and are working on a suite of integrations that may help automate this process for you.
You know your business best and should have the flexibility to view, track, and trend on what matters most to you. By supporting User Timings, Rigor provides the robustness and flexibility to satisfy even the most performant-minded businesses by helping our customers gain better insight into the user’s experience.
Interested in learning more about how Custom User Timings could help your business? Schedule a demo with one of Rigor’s performance experts!
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