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We’ve already covered two stages of getting to holiday readiness: functional and compatibility testing and performance and load testing. Now, it’s time to wind up the preparation with the last stage we call proactive monitoring. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how using test automation assets from stage 1 and stage 2 will let you conduct synthetic monitoring. It’ll help you ensure that all the end-to-end mobile apps or services perform well while you’re enjoying the festive days.

stage 3 - proactive end-to-end monitoring

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The shopping season covers all the major holidays and even more. From the e-commerce point of view, consumers perceive the holiday season more like a shopping marathon rather than a random one-day sale. Starting from the middle of November and up to the Black Friday evening, traffic is at its peak. It’s comparatively stable until Cyber Monday, November 30th, and will be at a peak over every weekend before Christmas. The biggest shopping frenzy following Thanksgiving is observed in the middle of December. At this time, people try to seize the last opportunity to order at least something before Christmas Eve. Even during the New Year period, users enjoy their free time while surfing online and engaging with mobile apps or mobile web services.

Top 10 online selling days in the US

top 10 US holiday shopping days for proactive monitoring

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Items to Consider with Synthetic End-to-End Monitoring

Why does synthetic monitoring or proactive user experience monitoring, as it’s often called, is of so much value while getting to holiday readiness? All because it provides reliable and useful data about the performance, app’s health level and, what’s most important, user experience.

Following a synthetic monitoring approach, one can use scripting capabilities for a mobile app, website, and API. The implemented scripts simulate an action or a particular path that an end-user would take through the functionality of an app or a mobile website. This way, teams can spot potential issues before the product goes into production. Moreover, being used as a part of the agile sprints, proactive end-to-end monitoring is considered an essential part of the entire DevOps process.

All these factors are critical if your plans include maximizing revenue potential throughout holiday shopping. Don’t leave this final stage without being absolutely sure that the end-to-end user experience in your app coincides with the expectations of your users. Start from the very beginning as in stage 1:

  1. Check that your app can be easily found and downloaded from app stores to the most common devices (read about selecting top target devices in the first article from this series).
  2. Make sure that the latest version of your app available on app stores communicates flawlessly with the current version of the production back end.
  3. Verify the most typical use cases: creating a new account, logging in, purchasing, upgrading/downgrading subscription level, etc. Take all the scenarios you’ve prepared at stage 1.
  4. Check response times for the most common use cases.
  5. Do the automatic check and intelligent monitoring regularly, ideally every 10-15 minutes.

Reuse the automation scripts created at stage 1 and stage 2. Select the scripts that test the most common use cases, add some scripts for fetching the latest version of your app on the app store. There are various proactive user experience monitoring tools, e.g. Alertsite, that help you get deeper into the sanity of your applications. Select one according to the app’s complexity level, your budget and the number of features you need. Next, configure your system to run these infrequent intervals against your production back end to ensure synchronization and operating capacity.

Consider the following questions while selecting a tool for synthetic monitoring:

  • Will it provide visibility into software performance?
  • Does it help to increase productivity?
  • Does it have the ability to track high-value pages?
  • Will it ensure better customer service?

Making Sense of Synthetic Monitoring Results

Since we suggest running the same scripts regularly with a 10 to 15 minutes loop, you can get an impressive number of test results including the redundant ones. To make the monitoring process more rational, you can integrate test with monitoring dashboards like Nagios. Such monitoring tools let you establish custom rules and set notifications via the most comfortable channel. For example, ‘If this test fails 3 times in a row, create a level 1 alarm‘. These alarms can then be scheduled to be sent out as e-mails, SMS or collaboration apps, like Slack. With live insights into the performance of the app, you can act immediately as the issue occurs.

We do appreciate using synthetic monitoring tools to test holiday readiness. All because they point out problem areas and provide insights on how those issues should be tackled without constant attention on your part. The feedback you’ll get will mostly concern:

  • Performance. You’ll find out whether there are delays while launching and executing the app. If delays are detected, you’ll decide on how to fix the issues.
  • Integrations. It will verify the work of the 3rd party components, API, SDKs, etc. You’ll get the answer to the question of how these integrations will influence user experience.
  • Optimization. To reach a balance between performance and cost, you’ll find out more about the ways to optimize the code and select the most rational app setup.

Holiday readiness is a matter of human concern and technological readiness. The biggest conceptual task is to automate as many QA processes as possible. Fine-tune various types of testing, starting from functionality and up to the performance and load testing. Finally, make use of synthetic monitoring, focusing on tech stack optimization.

Congratulations, you’ve done your homework correctly! Now, you can have a stress-free holiday season and even some time for your family.

Happy holidays!

Jouko Kaasila

Bitbar COO & Co-founder