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Apica´s Web Performance Blog is your source for tips, trends and tools for optimizing your web performance. Track current web performance metrics and benchmarks and new technology in web performance testing.

Where do your Website Problems really Lie?

website-problemsWhen the check engine warning light comes on in your car you may find yourself chasing error codes to find out what the problem is. When the mechanic attaches his diagnostic equipment he will be presented a code that the computer provides. What often turns out to be true, however, is that the error code being shown doesn’t identify the root problem. Further diagnostics end up showing that the problem is buried much deeper in the engine and the code being shown reflects only a small symptom of the deeper problem. The mechanic will tell you that he will have to fix any intermediate problems before he can get down to the heart of the matter.

The same issues are faced by website designers and testers.  When a website is not performing according to specs there can be layered problems starting with load balancing or API handling that, after being fixed, are shown to have masked deeply embedded coding or website construction errors. Only through the use of flexible tools that can be programmed to mimic the transactions that are failing can your team start peeling back the layers of the onion to find the core issue.

So when a website is performing badly and the ‘check engine’ light of customer complaints notifies you that you need to do some troubleshooting, a top-of-the-line Performance Monitoring tool can be invaluable in diagnosing the problems. Performance Monitoring can identify when issues are Network congestion related or when they are tied to infrastructure problems like a failing load balancer or an overloaded application server. The Performance Monitoring tool can isolate where in the application there is far too much ‘think time’ going on and can also be used to identify Memory Leaks over time, leading to poor performance when available memory drops below a critical level.

As you dive deeper into the layers of the Application, Performance Monitoring can also help you identify where code may have to be modified to better handle the responses your Application receives from the user or to reorganize your web pages to change when Java scripts or CSS files are sent to the browser, allowing your website to engage your users faster with content that interests them.  You may even have to create a better mechanism for interfacing with your database to streamline your mechanism for calling up information quickly. The best way to find these things out is to test drive your website using a Performance Monitor.

Performance Monitoring is not only for reactive troubleshooting when problems are observed. Consistent Performance Monitoring of your website can allow you to spot trouble brewing and head it off before it affects your users and your website’s reputation. Finding any of the problems mentioned above before they start to affect your users is a key to deploying a world-class website and keeping high in the search results list. The key to staying on top of website problems is to identify quickly where the problem lies so you can get to work remediating the problems. The key to quick identification is through the use of Performance Monitoring to point the way to problem spots.

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