Monitoring is a critical component of your planning, pre-launch, and post-launch application development. You need to see where issues are, what's causing them, and log them for further fixes.

But what kind of Application Performance Management tool should you use to monitor Digital User Experience? Great question! For dev/ops teams, that can be a confusing question. Quality Assurance is a buzzword-heavy industry — and monitoring is packaged under the QA umbrella. So, when you hear terms like RUM, APM and DX, you might be wondering if everyone gets buzzed during their testing cycle...

Don't you wish someone could break down monitoring solutions without all the dev talk?

Don't worry! We've got your back. We're going to break down the two biggest monitoring methods — real user monitoring (RUM) and synthetic monitoring (STM) — as simply as possible. And we'll talk about some of the benefits of the latter (with only a hint of bias)

Here's the big question — should you monitor your apps with real users, or should you leverage automated processes to capture insights?

Let's figure it out!

Why Do You Need App Monitoring?


Let's back up a bit. Why in the world do you need to monitor your apps in the first place? After all, you probably have some level of pre-launch automation baked into your security department.

Here are 10 reasons to use app monitoring.

  1. Helps you discover actionable insights into app issues
  2. Keeps your users happy (app crashes cause 71% of user uninstalls!)
  3. Boosts conversion rates (70% of users bounce if your app takes too long to load)
  4. Builds better brands (65% of users will think of your brand negatively if they run into app issues)
  5. Adds value to your app through better UI mapping (29% of users will uninstall your app if they don't find value)
  6. Lets you offload some testing to post-launch (47% of apps need more time for testing!)
  7. Gives you time to find bugs before users (44% of app issues are found by users)
  8. Provides fuel to your dev department to perform more code deployments (high-performing apps deploy code 200x more frequently)
  9. Finds the issues you won't ever know about (only 4% of users complain when they find issues!)
  10. Lowers QA costs (which takes up 25% of average teams budget!)

Synthetic Monitoring vs. Real User Monitoring

Let's dive into some definitions

Synthetic monitoring is an active monitoring solution that simulates the "happy path" that users take when using an app, website, etc. So, synthetic monitoring mocks real user behaviour using automated agents.

Real user monitoring (or RUM) is a passive monitoring solution that leverages real user behaviour to create actionable app changes.

Alright, so the main difference is that one is automated and uses "agents" (a.k.a scripts and algorithms) and the other tracks user behaviours (usually via a javascript code injected into each page.)

But, it's a little more complicated than that.

Real User Monitoring vs Synthetic User Monitoring Methodology

The way that both of these monitoring solutions operate within your tech stack is wildly different. RUM leverages users already visiting your app/site. So, RUM is heavily dependent upon having user traffic (making is super poor for pre-launch/pre-deployment) and it just grabs all of the data it comes across.

Here's how this works in real life.

Let's say that you have a website that you want to test. First, you have to launch the website and capture plenty of users. Then, you can stick a javascript tracker into your every page of your website, and you'll get insights from all of the users on your website. You'll literally get pageload data from every page from every user. So, it captures A LOT of data.

So, what about Synthetic monitoring?

Synthetic monitoring is much simpler. You literally plug-and-play the entire testing process. You connect with your synthetic monitoring solution, set up what you want to test, and run it. Then, you receive videos of issues, and you can direct the program where and what to test.

That's it!

You're done! 🎉

Here's the great thing — you can deploy it pre-launch. So, you don't have to put your buggy app/site out in front of users first — which will save you a few sweat buckets.

Yes! There are some cons. There's always a con! You don't get data from real users. That's the big one. And that can seem a little... weird.

Don't worry! There's plenty of pros packed into synthetic monitoring. And it's cheaper, faster, and easier than you think. 


Why Synthetic Monitoring?

Let's skip to the chase — what kind of advantages does synthetic user monitoring offer over real user monitoring?

After all, having a non-human test app issues can sound intimidating.. and a little scary (my mission is to protect you, John Conner!) 🤖

But, there are 4 HUGE benefits to synthetic monitoring.

  1. You don't need users. Want to test pre-launch and check for performance issues? Go ahead! Need to see how this recent code deployment is going to impact load time? Do it! Or, maybe you just want to check the response time at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. Now is your chance! Synthetic monitoring is always available. And it doesn't rely on external factors to provide tangible value.
  2. It provides easy tracking. You can waterfall chart every step, get videos of each interaction, and see EXACTLY what's happening during the synthetic monitoring test. With real users, data can get sloppy. And it can be hard to figure out what's going on.
  3. You don't need any code! Want to test an app that doesn't let you inject any code? Well, that was an easy decision! Looks like your using synthetic monitoring! This is also highly relevant for Ops teams. Does a C-level need to set up a monitoring process? Great! They can!
  4. It's 24/7. Synthetic monitoring is like the Energizer Bunny on a crack binge. It goes nonstop, and it doesn't need any pesky users to work its magic. You'll still get killer insights, and you'll definitely still receive critical feedback. So, while you're fast asleep, your synthetic monitor will be in the gym benching a hundred pounds of pure UI. 💪🏋


Final Thoughts

Should you leverage real people or robots to monitor your apps? Well, there are some pros and cons to both. Really, it will depend upon your business needs. But, if you want to test apps or sites at any point in your dev cycle and you want insights that are easy-to-understand, valuable 24/7, and completely controlled by YOU, you want synthetic monitoring.

Looking for a synthetic monitoring solution that can save you money, help you launch faster, and give you the insights you need to improve your website/app?  Contact us!

Want to see it for yourself? Try a free trial! No commitments — just pure monitoring power at the flick of a switch.

Speaking of free... check out our FREE eBook for more info on Synthetic monitoring.


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