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Measure What Matters: Your Competitive Advantage May Lie in Your Understanding (or Lack of Understanding) of What Users Are Really Experiencing

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Attracting and retaining customers lies in your ability to offer an exceptional digital experience. Now that digital channels are increasingly preferred over channels of the past, the climate is increasingly competitive -- and businesses are fighting to maintain loyalty and keep users engaged online. The cost of switching is low, consumers are transient, and user expectations for how digital experiences should perform have never been higher.

So how do you beat out your competition to attract and retain more customers? Every advantage you can get matters, and it's important to start with a baseline of understanding using the right measurements and real user data.

To help you do this, new capabilities have just been announced from Akamai that include:

  • perceived performance metrics so you understand how visual rendering and interactivity affect user behaviors, especially for mobile users
  • page construction metrics to provide insight into the resources that make up the web experience and how the elements you introduce impact business metrics
  • middle-mile metrics to allow you to derive the utmost benefit from Akamai by measuring how your apps are being delivered across our cloud delivery platform

Measure What Matters

Performance optimization is not a one-and-done proposition. If you're not continuously optimizing, you'll get slower. Toby Wright, CTO at Telegraph Media Group in the UK, described the benefits of this strategy when explaining the concept of the aggregation of marginal gains. He said, "The results proved that our hypothesis was right -- that even small incremental performance improvements could ripple out to make a massive downstream impact." Organizations are looking to eke out an advantage in a highly competitive market, competing for customers where the challenge of performance is getting harder, not easier.

That's why Akamai is introducing more actionable metrics that measure what matters most to help you better understand user behavior and tune your apps, and to better understand delivery and tune your optimization strategy. So what matters?

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Perception Matters

If you're trying to understand the user experience, your performance monitoring strategy needs to measure end-user perceived performance. Traditional nav timing metrics continue to be critical but are made stronger as perceived performance metrics extend your visibility even closer to the user interaction. Many of the metrics commonly used to evaluate web performance are a proxy for measuring the user experience. Perceived performance really unlocks our ability to pinpoint when the application feels ready or usable to the user.


"Is there a gap between when you think your application is ready to use and when the user can actually use it?"


Factors such as deferral of JS or even CPU limitations can be causing a delay between the moment you think your application is ready to use and when the user can actually use it. That's what makes perceived performance metrics so powerful, especially in mobile use cases.

New in mPulse, perceived performance metrics give you a better understanding of how users are interacting with your app so you may correlate those behaviors to user sentiment, and ultimately desirable or undesirable outcomes, and remove jankiness from the experience for mobile users.

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Its critical to have a picture of end-to-end performance across the delivery landscape. From synthetic testing to benchmark back-end time to network monitoring and measuring navigation timing milestones -- all are a hint as to what the end user might be experiencing. What really matters is the interaction with the customer and identifying the gaps.

Learn more about perceived performance metrics

What's Inside Matters

Page load time is a sum of its parts, and DOM complexity can strain rendering of pages on end user devices. "As the number of elements -- text, titles, images -- on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%" (source: Google). Measuring the volume of HTTP requests can give you the ability to seek opportunities to reduce any requests that are unnecessary and drive greater efficiency. To the same end, the ability to measure resource size by type provides actionable information to aid a critical understanding of how the relative size of various resource types could be optimized to identify the weak links and reduce their impact on page load times.

You can't manage what you can't measure. DOM complexity -- measured by the sheer volume of HTTP requests along with the size of those requests by type -- gives you an actionable view of overweight or problematic resources that could be straining your web performance.

Learn more about page construction metrics

How You Get There Matters

A cloud delivery platform helps you transport and optimize your digital experience to your distributed end users, making it fast, reliable, and secure. The strategy you use to deliver your experience is just as critical as the strategy you use to design and build it.

  • Monitor and improve your application delivery and acceleration strategy
  • Prove your CDN is working for you
  • Gain critical visibility during operational challenges or mishaps
  • Reduce mean time to resolution

New middle-mile metrics in mPulse help you validate that your strategy is working. You can tune CDN settings to optimize delivery and give you the visibility to reduce time to resolution should something go wrong.

Learn more about middle-mile metrics

How Can I Start?

Great news: We've made it easy. mPulse Lite is now available for FREE. It's a limited-functionality RUM offering that's a great starting point for you to start capturing real user metrics. When you sign up, you'll have access to a trial of mPulse -- after 30 days it will revert to mPulse Lite, which you can then use on an ongoing basis with no end date. Sign up today at www.akamai.com/trympulse.

To read more about measuring what matters and all the new capabilities in mPulse, check out these related posts:

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