How to avoid the pain of third-party online performance issues

Date: 24th May 2016
Author: Louise Arnold

Are you fed up with taking the blame when third-party solutions adversely impact the user experience?

With websites offering increasingly complex, content-rich functionality, it’s not uncommon to incorporate hundreds of third-party solutions within your ecommerce proposition. In fact, there are plenty of sites where third-party calls make up more than 50% of page requests.

Multiple third parties are used to deliver everything from core functions like caching, carts and card processing services, to those that improve the user experience, such as personalisation and social integration, and including tracking and analytics operations. And while some solutions have a negligible impact on web performance, if a problem develops with any single element, it can be detrimental to a customer’s overall digital experience.

Third parties on laptopManaging issues arising from third-party problems can be frustrating

If there are dozens of third-party providers in the mix, it may be difficult to work out if and when any of the associated components are under-performing or – worse still – actively damaging the user experience. Spotting problems and then spending time liaising with third-party providers to resolve them is time-consuming for technical teams at the best of times. Add in the complication of investigating issues that have flagged as a problem but aren’t actually impacting web performance, and the catalogue of wasted resources keeps on growing.

What can you do?

1. Carefully select third parties

This might go without saying, but it’s worth researching third-party providers to make sure you’re selecting the best fit for your business. Find out how they manage any fourth-party relationships, ensure there are valuable service level agreements (SLAs) in place and regularly review your supplier’s performance against the agreed performance metrics. Monitor key journeys after integrating new third-party solutions to measure the true impact on end user experience.

2. Get third-party visibility and accountability with an independent monitoring solution

Even in the event that every component of your site is managed by a third party, the introduction of a realistic monitoring service will help you build an accurate, ongoing picture of your user’s experience. An independent monitoring solution will give you an unbiased view of your site’s performance and is especially valuable if it highlights and reports issues arising from third parties separately. Find out and hold them to account.

Screenshot showing how the impact of third party issues is clearly visible in a monitoring solution.

third-party-issues-wallboard

3. Use direct reporting methods to speed up resolution times

If you or your tech team has to personally relay third-party issues to the supplier, you’re wasting valuable resources that could be employed more profitably elsewhere. Make sure you choose a monitoring solution that includes customised alerting so that third parties can be notified quickly and directly regarding any issues relating to their infrastructure or content. Ideally, find a solution that also enables third parties to login to the access monitoring results directly so they can identify and resolve issues more promptly.

4. Exclude the third party issues that don’t impact the user experience

While there’s a strong commercial imperative for measuring the impact of third-party components on the end user experience, a good percentage of the errors discovered will have no impact on the end user at all and simply add superfluous ‘noise’ to your results. If you can implement a solution that will exclude this data from your monitoring results, you’ll save time and resources in the long run.

Get in touch with the experts

SciVisum has lots of expertise you can tap into for extra tips and advice.

Download the Jigsaw case study to learn how this leading retailer uses monitoring to gain insight into the performance of third-party components on its busy ecommerce site.

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