IRWD 2013 Wrap-up: User experience, SLAs and Magento
Test and Monitor | Posted February 18, 2013

Wow! For one of Internet Retailers smaller shows, IRWD2013 was a really spirited conference. Getting out and interacting with users, whether customers, partners or just other professionals trying to deliver great user experiences, is one of the parts of the job I really treasure. There were a few interesting themes at the show that I think are worth some further consideration. First and foremost, I want to say thank you to all the customers with whom I had that chance to meet and interact. It was great to see and meet you all in person. Some of you shared with me the successes you have had using our DejaClick transaction technology to easily create and manage your Web performance monitoring in a flexible, self-service way. Others shared challenges they were having with managing third party content – a job for ContentViews. And others took the opportunity to learn about capabilities like mobile website monitoring or Visual User Experience monitoring. Speaking of Visual User Experience monitoring, I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged IRWD attendees were on this topic. As many of you may be aware, AlertSite has created what I like to call "Robot Eyeballs."

The need for speed

Essentially, we have written a piece of software that's capable of understanding the visual performance experience for a Web performance monitor that translates into screenshots and timings when a human would first notice the page has significant render activity to the eyes (first paint) and when the page stabilizes or is fully loaded in the visible portion of the browser (above the fold). The key to Web performance management is to measure and improve speed. One has to answer what measure of speed we're talking about. The traditional measures typically tell you how long it takes to load each and every asset of a Web page, however, they don't meter how long it takes for the user to see the Web page. Another topic of conversation at the show was Service Level Agreements (SLAs). I had a surprising number of conversations with various third parties that provide search, image management or hosted commerce solutions about SLAs. Some were interested in providing SLAs and metrics to back them up as a reassurance to prospects who are considering integrating these third parties. Others had key customers that they felt needed key performance indicators as a way to manage the relationship. And yet others felt that having meaningful SLAs would be a great sales tool for their organization.

And then there's Magento

Finally, we did announce the AlertSite extension for Magento just before IRWD, which led to quite a few questions about what we did for Magento. The AlertSite extension for Magento brings visibility for site availability and home page comparative performance directly into the Magento console. Site status is directly visible on the Magento dashboard and availability report and benchmark reports will be displayed in the reports section in the next release. Interacting with our retail community is exhilarating, probably because as much as any of our customers, retailers understand the direct relationship between site performance and user experience as well as the business results that the online store produces in terms of conversions, revenue, order sizes, etc.  - the high cost of poor performance. Can't wait to see you all again in June at IRCE 2013!

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