Monitoring your sites for key performance metrics like Page Load or Visually Complete is important, because it helps uncover errors, outages, and critical defects. When performance degrades, you have to figure out why. While reading a waterfall diagram can help provide insight into what the browser was doing, you are still trying to reconstruct what the user experienced by looking at a timeline showing when a browser requested and received content. This is kind of like trying to experience a Broadway musical by only reading the sheet music. To get the complete picture you need to actually see what was going on as the browser loaded and rendered the page.
That’s why we are excited to announce that Rigor now provides a video recording of every run, capturing everything the user sees while the page is loading. We also provide an interactive film strip, with all the major browser events overlaid on top. This visual record of the page load makes it much easier to understand how changes to your site and key metrics impact what the user is experiencing. This enables you to more effectively respond to performance issues, as well as build a faster site.
Seeing Is Believing
To see how having a visual record is critical to understanding and resolving performance problems, let’s use an example:
Hanna works at the New York Times and she is passionate about making sure the user has a good experience. This is why she uses Rigor Monitoring to track key performance metrics related to the user experience. Hanna has just received a Slack notification that Speed Index for the home page has increased dramatically. To figure out why, Hanna looks at a filmstrip of how the page loaded when Speed Index was high:
Ah ha! We can see that a large panel pushes the content down, and a blue advertisement appears. To see exactly what is going on, Hanna can click on the filmstrip to see a larger picture:
Looks like the subscriptions department is running a special campaign. Hanna has historic graphs to help explain how this campaign is changing metrics like Speed Index and Fully Loaded. She even has a filmstrip to help visually demonstrate what is happening. She wants work with the subscription department to help optimize this campaign, so it not only has a higher conversion rate for people subscribing, but also doesn’t impact the user experience. However, she knows most people are not performance experts, and may not understand why a change in Speed Index could be important. How can she help them understand?
Luckily, Rigor goes beyond just providing a scrollable filmstrip. Now, Hanna can see and share a video of how the New York Times was loading:
With just a waterfall, Hanna’s options to figure out why Speed Index has changed, let alone communicate that to a broader audience, would have been limited. Seeing a video of how a page loads helps even less technical people conceptualize the impact of site changes on performance.
View Entire Sessions
Filmstrips and videos doesn’t just work for single pages. Rigor enables you to monitor entire workflows, such as a signup flow or checkout process. By capturing the visual record for the entire application flows, Rigor makes is easier to understand what the user experiences during the whole workflow.
Faster Response to Performance Problems
Before filmstrips and video documentation of performance defects from Rigor, teams would get caught in a vicious loop of receiving an alert, attempting to reproduce or explain the problem, failing to do so, and thus deprioritizing it until the same alert goes off again. Having a visual record gets everyone on the same page, enabling you to more quickly respond and resolve performance issues.
The visual record also pairs nicely with the Performance KPIs trending feature we released in May. Using our previous example again, this gives Hanna the historic context to see how Speed Index has changed over time.
Hanna can not only view the video or filmstrip for a page with an abnormally high Speed Index as discussed above, but she can also view the visual record for a normal run, to see what the user should be experiencing. This further accelerates her investigation into slow site performance.
Tip of the Iceberg
Adding filmstrips and videos today wasn’t the only thing we did. Rigor also reworked our entire results page for each measurement of your website!
Of course Rigor is always focused on speed. So with this new view, we focused on how to get the most important performance information to you as quickly as possible. To do so, key performance metrics were moved to the top, the visual record is front and center, and waterfall charts are automatically loaded. There are a host of other tweaks and enhancements we added that let you quickly drill into your performance data, and you can get the full details of all the improvements at our knowledge base.
Excited about seeing a visual record of how pages load? Want to better understand and share the impact of performance issues? See these powerful features in action by signing up for a free trial!