Sometimes called synthetic testing, synthetic monitoring allows you to simulate visitor interaction with your site. Likewise, you’ll hear many IT pros call RUM real user testing. The specific terms have little to do with the key differences between the two that makes all the difference for your business.
RUM Pros and Cons
When you use actual human users of your website as the focal point of gathering data, experiences, and behavior, you’re getting right at the source of a company’s most valuable database. The main benefits of this approach include how simple the collection process is, how inexpensive it is, and the fact that it tracks authentic events that people encounter while using your organization’s website. The downside is that it’s hard to create and do testing on hypothetical problems because RUM is all about reality, not theory.
Synthetic Monitoring Pros and Cons
When your team is ready to set up a synthetic solution, it’s wise to keep four best practices in mind. This is the best way to discover the most suitable setup for your particular kind of business. There are more than four, but if you had to choose the most relevant best practices for synthetic monitoring, the following would be on the list:
- Set Goals You Can Track: Take the time to ponder exactly what you want out of a synthetic system. That way, your site’s unique aspects will be more measurable from period to period and will more closely reflect what actual visitors are likely to encounter.
- Know Which Apps are Costing You the Most Money: It pays to keep a close eye on apps that cost you the most money. If something goes wrong with them, you could have a major problem on your hands. Spend the necessary time giving extra attention to your high-dollar programs and ferreting out small issues before they grow.
- Analyze Tickets Carefully: Regular ticket analysis can yield surprising and worthwhile results. Not only will you be able to see which apps are the source of most problems, but a monthly ticket study will reveal typical, recurring performance issues that you can easily address and correct.
- Do a Footprint Study: Huge apps, many of which are large families of groups of applications and programs of their own, can have massive footprints. It’s a good idea to do lots of testing on these types of programs because when they go wrong, the trouble can spread quickly to other parts of your system.
Comparing the Two
The bottom line on an old question about synthetic monitoring vs real user monitoring is that neither is superior to the other. The former uses artificial transactions, like testing whether a page or site is available in order to measure response time and other factors. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive. The latter, real user testing, gathers data from actual users of your organization’s website as they interact with its various pages and functions. Smart entrepreneurs combine the two into a technique called digital experience management. It’s an eclectic approach that takes advantage of the best of both worlds and digs deep into all the nuances of how your prospective and current customers behave and react to your company’s website pages.