Technology has given humanity the means to feel connected. Before airplanes, cars, phones, or computers, there was a strong lack of connectivity between one part of the world and another. People were not easily able to understand or empathize with the experiences or cultures of other countries, but today we have the tools to enable all of this and more.
This has been especially crucial for business. Beyond communication, even the physical creation of new tech requires multiple countries to collaborate. For example, many of today’s mobile phones are built of a combination of multiple components from the US, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Switzerland, so next time you unlock your phone, say “Hello” to the rest of the world.
Performance Requires Connectivity
Performance is multifaceted and requires the same worldly connectivity that the assembly of a mobile phone does. When testing an application, you want to make sure that it is accessible to all people in all parts of the world. If you are not able to factor in those on slower networks or those in certain countries, you potentially could be losing money and limiting your reach and your ability to do business.
Fully adopting this idea of multi-locational performance testing is a principal factor for grasping the full user experience; however, for some locations, it does come with some interesting challenges.
The Tricky 18%
If including just one country in your performance monitoring environment could effectively cover 1 billion mobile phone users, $1.9 trillion in retail ecommerce sales, and roughly 18% of the world’s population, would you make sure you did so?
Your answer is likely yes, but there’s a deeper level to this question.
China is an economic giant. It dominates the manufacturing, ecommerce, retail, and mobile space and is continuously growing. It makes up 18% of the world’s population (1.4 billion people and growing). Because of this, China has become a hub for business and a stronghold for online retail sales. More people are accessing the internet in China than in any other part of the world.
In 2018, data was published by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) which stated that 802 million people in China (57.7% of its population) are now actively using the internet. Out of this 802 million, 788 million are mobile users. For reference, in the United States, there are an estimated 300 million internet users and 240 million mobile users. This means that mobile performance monitoring is key to understanding the Chinese mobile user’s experience. Without it, you essentially are ignoring 98% of all internet users. Failing to prioritize mobile experience, especially in China, is not an option.
China has placed great emphasis and priority on their network infrastructure to be able to serve such a large number of mobile users. With this emphasis, the government has also created a strong filter to manage the content coming in. This is where things get tricky.
Monitoring in Mainland China
China heavily regulates and filters certain web content from being accessible from browsers inside China through “The Great Firewall of China.” Users who are connected may experience content blocking or restrictions with popular media sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
This filtering and added regulation mean that the definition of performance timings may look different from locations inside of China than others around the world. This also means that there are certain characteristics of China that differentiate it from other locations:
- China has a strong filtering firewall in place. This firewall blocks content it deems as “subversive.” The filtration looks at a webpage as a heterogeneous mixture of components, first-party content, third-party content, and CDNs and may block any one of these or even entire pages – without any consistency. As a result, it’s possible that you may see failures in your checks, and any of the blocked content could be the culprit.
- Blocked content can have large impacts on timings. When a request is blocked, the connection remains open until it eventually times out. This is often referred to as “blackholing.” When the blocked request is an asset that blocks the page load, it can result in high load times.
- Performance timings from China may be inconsistent with timings from other locations. This can be due to the added latency of the filtration system or even the network infrastructure that connects China to the internet.
To improve monitoring for Chinese hosted sites, users can:
- Test sites hosted in China. Many sites work when tested from China; however, you often get the best results when testing sites that are hosted inside of China.
- Exclude third-party content that is getting blocked. Using exclusions is a great way to take out content that may be blocked, causing your checks to fail. If you notice content being blocked, use these exclusion rules to stop the browser from loading that content and impacting your timings.
How Rigor Can Help
Shanghai and Beijing, China, have joined the list of Rigor’s 40+ locations serviced to better help you find, fix, and prevent web performance defects. By enabling these locations for our customers, we have opened the door to a new market of performance. Through the Rigor platform, users can monitor any application from either of these two Chinese locations and receive the proper data to better the experience of their customers. With this addition, Rigor can provide a way to better the user experience for even more of the world in our quest to improve performance for all.
Interested in learning more about Rigor? Reach out today for a free trial.
Special thanks to contributing writer Gabriel Ferrari.