Regular evaluation of your website's performance is important as it will help to ensure a good experience for your visitors. If your website is slow to download or not working properly, your visitors are more likely to go to another site than they are to tell you about it.
Slow performance can be caused by a few different factors. The processing speed of your server, your site's bandwidth, poor coding or database structure and using images or other media that are too large can all contribute to the problem.
Any one of these factors can be a problem but if you're dealing with a combination of them, it can be a critical problem. You – or someone on your behalf – must keep track of your site's performance and make sure any problems get fixed quickly and effectively.
Poor website performance can cause large losses in sales if you're running an ecommerce site. Fortunately, there are several tools available for monitoring your website on an ongoing basis.
There are remote monitoring services that will do a comprehensive analysis of your website. The analysis will check things like your content mix, bandwidth, server speed, page loading times, server downtime and more.
These tests can help you to pinpoint any problems and get them fixed, before you start to lose visitors. Most of these monitoring services have multiple contact options available – telephone, email, pager, etc. – to let you know when there's a problem.
You'll also get real-time reporting, as well as historical data, of your site's performance and availability. In most cases, these monitoring services can be set up quickly and you will start seeing data immediately.
You will not need a lot of special training to use them because the reports are generated by specialized software. You may need to get your webmaster (or someone else else with the technical skills) to install them for you, but once they're up and running, they require little or no maintenance.
Planning Ahead for Increased Traffic
One of the more valuable features of these monitoring & testing services is the ability to stress test your site under heavy load.
Most websites will work fine when the number of visitors is relatively low, but if you get a sudden spike in traffic you might start to see problems. And if you do not know there's a problem until the spike happens, you'll lose a lot of those additional visitors.
A good monitoring service will be able to simulate a large number of visitors, and test your website's response under heavy load. This will help you to ensure your site is scalable for those times when the traffic increases.
If you're running a small business website on a shared server, these services can be invaluable. If you're a "name brand" like Amazon or Yahoo, people will come back if your site is not responding. The average small business can not afford to hope those people come back.
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by John Lenaghan