End-to-end mobile monitoring

Users are increasingly interacting with businesses through their mobile phones. As mobile speeds are getting better, mobile users prefer using their handsets for browsing, payments, and other needs. Businesses are also quickly adapting to this mobile-first approach as a part of their digital transformation. It is no longer restricted to websites but sees a wider scope in terms of mobile apps and other areas in business. Thus, the monitoring approach also varies with the focus on mobile apps and servers.

What is mobile-first?

The mobile-first approach is the practice of designing and developing websites and applications by prioritizing the user experience for mobile users. This involves altering the workflow and scaling down resources to fit in the mobile devices. Developers and designers have greater scope and design differently for mobile and desktop devices. The design they develop for desktop platforms, with appropriate images, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Network Security Services for Java (JSS), may not always work for mobile devices. Instead, they might provide a sub-optimal user experience to users on mobile.

For an effective mobile-first design, designers have to tweak their approach to adopt JSS and CSS so that they provide the desired user experience on both mobile and desktop devices. When it comes to images, they have to scale down the images to show only what is necessary at a size that fits the mobile device. These operational challenges have to be handled by designers to provide a positive end-user experience.

Why is mobile-first important?

According to Statistica, the number of smartphone users in the world as of 2021 is 6.3 billion. Mobile apps have emerged as a mode of efficient usage especially in the case of e-commerce, finance and banking, news, and entertainment. Most smartphone users don't follow a defined time for browsing and accessing mobile applications. They use their mobile phones on the go while walking, exercising, and even in bed. There could be a surge in mobile app usage at a particular time of the day. All locations may not have good connectivity. Developers have to design the app to function in a low data mode and at the same time maintain its scalability and user-friendliness.

Designing for the mobile-first world

Designing for the mobile-first world-Site24x7 Fig. 1.

Providing a positive end-user experience is the ultimate goal of any application or website. However, designers and developers have to consider a few aspects to achieve better usability in a mobile-first world.

Improving the speed of services

Mobile speeds are getting better, so content and optimization techniques should be in place to speed things up further. Slow is the new down. According to Google, 22 seconds is the average time it takes to fully load a mobile page. Using the same desktop resources for a mobile page may simply increase the page load time. There are a few best practices to improve the page speed:

  • Reduce the number of requests
  • Reduce the content
  • Remove unnecessary scripts
  • Avoid layout shifts

Reduce the number of requests on a page

Google recommends fewer than 50 requests per page as a best practice. Images and videos at times make back-end calls that generate unwanted requests. Every time a browser reads those files, it makes more calls increasing the page load time. Therefore, it is important to revisit the requests that your page makes and optimize them

Reduce the content on your page

Wordy pages might be helpful on a desktop but not on mobile. Google recommends having less than 500KB of content on a page. First, designers and marketers should cut unnecessary content and retain only what is essential. Secondly, optimize the images for mobile devices so that they don't end up loading forever. Upload a cropped version of the image, keeping in mind the pixel size restrictions of smaller devices.

Using SVG images retain the quality at a reduced size. You can also add images and videos in formats like WEBP and WEBM, in addition to the JPEG, and PNG graphic, and the mp4 video formats. WEBP and WEBM formats occupy less space and are rendered based on the device.

Remove unnecessary scripts

Often designers end up adding common scripts across all pages without considering if they are necessary for that particular page. The result is a slow page. Marketers and developers can discuss and if it's more wise to just retain important tracking scripts alone on select webpages to improve the page load speed.

Avoid layout shifts

Sudden layout shifts are not user-friendly, especially on mobile devices. Define the size of the images so that the layout doesn't change even if the image fails to load promptly. Use call to action elements, frequently referred to as CTA buttons, that are specific to the size of the mobile device so they remain visible with minimum layout shift. Also, try to keep the images to the device's screen display size so that users don't have to zoom in or out to view an image.

Cloud-based deployments

Applications and websites have to load faster than ever in this mobile-first era. Cloud services are the best-fit solutions for the mobile-first approach. There are a variety of cloud service providers available in the market with deployment options and services specific to different business use cases. You can choose and use the services that are specific to your mobile-first needs, including for physical inventory, e-commerce, business operations, and communications.

Mobile apps

An industry study says 69% of all US digital media time comes from mobile apps. Mobile apps provide better customer service, and at the same time increase product sales and brand awareness. It facilitates direct engagement with the customers and servers their needs in a better way. One of the major reasons why users prefer mobile apps is because they are fast and provide personalized experiences. They also deliver instant updates and notifications your handset.

With mobile apps preferred for these reasons, it is crucial to provide a better online experience on mobile so that users don't end up reconsidering their decision, both about the app and conducting business with your organization.

The scope of monitoring

Monitoring in the mobile-first world-Site24x7 Fig. 2

As businesses consider the importance of the mobile-first attitude of users, they need a better tracking system to understand the trends and statistics before and after tweaking their approach. Optimizing the resources for mobile is important. However, it should not be done at the expense of the front-end experience of desktop users. Businesses should deploy monitoring tools that can monitor the user experience in all device types as well as the performance of mobile applications.

Here's a list of what should be monitored to deliver a better digital experience in the mobile-first world.

Website performance monitoring

Track your website availability minute-by-minute and ensure continued uptime. Monitor your website's reachability from different global locations to check its response time and other critical parameters from various regions. Perform regular content checks to verify that there is no unethical behavior on your site. Analyze the webpage speed by recording the load time for each static resource, like documents, images, Java Script, videos, and other files, to identify the resources that may be slowing your page down.

Synthetic transaction monitoring

You can use synthetic transaction monitoring tools to create a recording of web transactions using simple scripts like Selenium. You can simulate the steps a user might execute on your website like login checks, form filling, AJAX requests, and searching on a page. You can also configure to receive alerts if the expected behavior is not achieved in any of the steps. Monitoring tools use an actual browser to playback the captured web transactions to scan for any sign of trouble.

There is also mobile synthetic monitoring to track the mobile layouts of websites. You can monitor mobile business transactions on iPhone and Android browsers to understand your customer experience.

Real user monitoring (RUM)

RUM is important from a mobile-first perspective and enables you to accomplish various vital tasks. Capture insights on how real users perceive your website on their mobile phones with RUM. Track the page load-time, network latencies, and server time. Identify and resolve Java Script errors, monitor the performance of AJAX calls, and obtain details on redirection time, connection time, download time, first-byte time, document rendering time, and page rendering time. These insights help you understand what happens when a user interacts with your site, because of or despite all the measures that you've already implemented.

Mobile app monitoring

Developing a mobile app is just a baby step into the mobile-first world. You can also consider obtaining crash analytics to help ensure your mobile app is bug-free, improves customer engagement, and receives good reviews from customers. This is a continuous improvement process that involves monitoring mobile app performance at the user level, performance level, engagement level, and business level.

Developing a mobile app is just a baby step into the mobile-first world. You can also consider obtaining crash analytics to help ensure your mobile app is bug-free, improves customer engagement, and receives good reviews from customers. This is a continuous improvement process that involves monitoring mobile app performance at the user level, performance level, engagement level, and business level.

Another important aspect is crash analytics and debugging JS errors. Mobile app monitoring also includes tracking HTTP calls and individual transactions. Other key metrics are identifying the types of requests, response codes, and corresponding mobile platforms, and components involved, responses, and throughput for individual transactions.

Use these metrics to understand how your mobile app serves your customers so you can improve customer retention based on these insights.

You can also use REST API monitoring and REST API transaction monitoring to check every mobile app API call for JSON content, availability, and performance.

Monitoring for mobile networks

Checking availability is important not only for resources but also for mobile networks. In addition to monitoring your websites and mobile apps from different global locations, it is essential to monitor from locations that your monitoring tool doesn't provide. You can accomplish this by using an agent or a mobile network poller software that can directly monitor resources by turning a mobile phone into a monitoring location. Availability, response time, and downtime monitoring are key metrics that you have to track to analyze the behavior of your websites, mobile apps, and carrier networks. Mobile network pollers also enable IT teams to measure the performance of mobile websites, such as those accessed through 4G and LTE, which users often visit while on the move.

Monitoring and optimizing for the mobile-first world

Monitoring tools provide continuous monitoring to ensure a positive digital experience for customers. Hence, it is wiser to deploy a monitor tool so that you know if your measures for optimization at the back end work for your customers at the front end.

You can also use Google Page Speed Insights to understand how your page is rendered for users. Search engine optimization plays a vital role in organic traffic. It is important to optimize your webpages for Google's core web vitals so they are not adversely impacted by Google's algorithm updates. Content is king and search engines these days are mobile-first. Therefore, it is best to monitor and monetize.