Every production web application should use web analytics. There are many great free tools for web analytics, the most popular of which is Google Analytics. Google Analytics helps you analyze visitor traffic and paint a complete picture of your audience and their needs. Web analytics solutions provide insight into how people discover your site, what content is most popular, and who your users are. Modern web analytics also provide insight into user behavior, social engagement, client-side page speed, and the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Any responsible business owner is data-driven and should leverage web analytics solutions to get more information about your end users.
Web Analytics Landscape
While Google Analytics is the most popular and the de facto standard in the industry, there are quite a few quality web analytics solutions available in the marketplace:
- Google Analytics
- Adobe Digital Analytics (formerly Omniture)
- IBM Digital Analytics (formerly Coremetrics)
The Forrester Wave Report provides a good guide to choosing an analytics solution.
There are also many solutions focused on specialized web analytics that I think are worth mentioning. They are either geared towards mobile applications or getting better analytics on your customers’ interactions:
Once you understand your user demographics, it’s great to be able to get additional information about how performance affects your users. Web analytics only tells you one side of the story, the client-side. If you are integrating web analytics, check out Segment.io which provides analytics.js for easy integration of multiple analytics providers.
It’s all good – until it isn’t
Using Google Analytics on its own is fine and dandy – until you’re having performance problems in production you need visibility into what’s going on. This is where application performance management solutions come in. APM tools like AppDynamics provide the added benefit of understanding both the server-side and the client-side. Not only can you understand application performance and user demographics in real time, but when you have problems you can use the code-level visibility to understand the root cause of your performance problems. Application performance management is the perfect complement to web analytics. Not only do you understand your user demographics, but you also understand how performance affects your customers and business. It’s important to be able to see from a business perspective how well your application is performing in production:
Since AppDynamics is built on an extensible platform, it’s easy to track custom metrics directly from Google Analytics via the machine agent.
The end user experience dashboard in AppDynamics Pro gives you real time visibility where your users are suffering the most:
Capturing web analytics is a good start, but it’s not enough to get an end-to-end perspective on the performance of your web and mobile applications. The reality is that understanding user demographics and application experience are two completely separate problems that require two complementary solutions. O’Reilly has a stellar article on why real user monitoring is essential for production applications.
Get started with AppDynamics Pro today for in-depth application performance management.
As always, please feel free to comment if you think I have missed something or if you have a request for content in an upcoming post.