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What does it mean to monitor your website?

Monitoring your website is a way of constantly checking or measuring the performance of your website. There are various performance indicators, related to the user experience, that you want to be monitoring. Such as:

  • How many visitors does your website get? (web traffic)
    • A good indicator to see whether or not your company’s actions are helping to generate more visitors.
  • If your website is responding within a reasonable time? (latency)
    • The response time of a website can be slower under heavier load. For example, if your company gets a sudden surge in popularity, you might see that it is taking 500ms for your website to respond (when it usually takes 2ms), then your team can quickly react to fix it before you get any complaints.
  • The availability of your website (uptime)
    • This is the most important performance indicator.
    • Uptime is the percentage of time your website is up and available for people to visit. If your website has a 100% uptime then you should be proud because it means that your website is up 24/7 and has never gone down.
    • However, If your website goes down regularly for long periods of time, then frustrated visitors will start to lose interest in your company.

This blog will be talking about monitoring the most important performance indicator with UptimeRobot.

Monitoring the uptime of our website with UptimeRobot

A problem we had was that we want to start working on getting our website back up and running as soon as it goes down. But, in order for our plan to work, we need to be notified as soon as our website goes down. That’s why we started looking into the tools we could use for Uptime Monitoring of our website and notify us as soon as it goes down.

After looking around, we decided to use UptimeRobot because it’s free and integrates with Slack.

The most important thing about monitoring the uptime of your website is being alerted when your website goes down and UptimeRobot’s alert system allows you choose whether to be alerted via email, Twitter, Pro SMS, HipChat, etc and you can even choose to use a combination of different alerts.

For our website, we decided that we only want to be alerted via email and Slack as those are the main types of communication we use regularly as a team.

Setting up the alerts

Before you start monitoring you’ll need to set-up your alerts. To do so you, start by clicking on ‘My Settings’ at the very top of the dashboard, then click ‘Add Alert Contact’ and the form in the screenshot below should appear.

The form for adding a new alert contact

As you can see, it’s a simple form and if you are not sure about what a ‘Slack WebHook URL’ is then the developers of UptimeRobot were thoughtful enough to provide a link to how to get it. (They provide a helpful link for all the 3rd party apps)

To avoid the hassle of creating an ‘Alert contact’ for every single person on our team, we have a company email address that sends all the emails it receives to everyone on the team. So we have two alert contacts set up, one for Slack and the other for email.

Setting up the monitor

The form for creating a new monitor using UptimeRobot

This is the form that will appear when you click the big green button ‘+ Add New Monitor’ found on the top left of the dashboard.

You can see the alerts that you’ve created on the right and you simply have to tick the type(s) you want to receive.

On the left, from top to bottom you have; the monitor type, the friendly name (whatever you want to call it), the url you want to be monitored and then the interval for each check. The default is set so that it checks every 5 minutes.

If the URL you provided requires authentication, then you can fill in the optional section with the necessary details.

You can find more information about the different monitoring types and their purposes here

Summary

This was an introduction to one of many tools that you could use to monitor the accessibility of a website, one of many performance indicators that should be monitored. I recommend looking into other possible performance indicators and metrics and use their analysis to optimise your website. 

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