Frontend monitoring is extremely important as it concerns how your user interacts and accesses your entire application. If users can’t access your website’s UI features, then your application is a failure regardless of how performant it is.
Frontend monitoring is a group of techniques for measuring application layer performance, accessibility, uptime, and error tracking and can also be used in web analytics. In other words, these methods monitor a software application’s frontend, the layer through which a user interacts with the system’s backend.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different aspects of frontend monitoring and related tools that you can use in your own software applications. This guide is suited for developers who want to implement frontend monitoring tools in their applications.
Frontend monitoring fulfills the role of a “doctor” for your applications, ensuring your system is healthy and maintaining good conversion rates. For instance, you could set up a frontend monitoring tool to monitor the responsiveness of your website, which would check that your website is accessible on diverse devices with different screen sizes and pixel ratios.
Apart from the visual aspect, frontend monitoring also helps maintain a good SEO. Many companies have spent considerable resources studying the impacts of low-performance pages on conversion rates. While crawling and indexing your website, Google web crawlers also consider multiple metrics like page speed and rendering errors in deciding the SERP rankings.
Hence, a low value for these metrics affects your website’s ranking, and ultimately, you’ll lose your potential customers. This is exactly why you should monitor the frontend layer of your website projects.
As it encompasses anything that tracks and maintains the health of the presentation layer of your web applications, a broad variety of monitoring approaches and tools are involved in frontend monitoring. In this context, the relevant monitoring practices and tools are separated into the following categories:
As a website is actually a combination of the frontend and backend services, website monitoring is a broad term that encompasses various other monitoring techniques, including frontend monitoring, API monitoring, and the like. Through website monitoring, you ensure that your website works as intended.
For example, you should ensure the website doesn’t cause any 5xx server errors. A well-formatted and functioning site map is also important as it allows search engine crawlers to easily index your website.
You can monitor other aspects like uptime, responsiveness, forms, accessibility, and more. If any of these aspects fail the monitoring tests, the monitoring system sends a notification to the support team, who can then take the required actions and fix the issues.
A good website monitoring tool should have the following features:
Many tools offer website monitoring capabilities, but the following are some of the most popular and reliable:
Apart from these tools, also check out Cronitor’s website monitoring tool. Cronitor can monitor your website from multiple locations around the world and notify you via SMS, Slack, PagerDuty, or your preferred method as soon as there’s a critical issue.
API monitoring is used to monitor the uptime and correctness of the APIs. It can be implemented to monitor both REST APIs and GraphQL APIs. While APIs work on the backend, they are integrated with the frontend. So if a frontend is rendered based on the API’s response, then the API’s response time is a very important metric to monitor as it affects the load time of the frontend.
Some of the best practices related to implementing API monitoring include the following:
You can use the following tools to monitor your APIs:
One of the best practices to consider while implementing real user monitoring is tracking the performance of newly added features because new features are bound to break more often than existing ones. You should also track real user journeys through the application as this helps you understand how end-users experience your website.
The following tools can implement real user monitoring in your project:
You can wrap your code in a try-catch block, and add a
console.log statement in the catch or finally block to catch such errors. However, the
console statement only logs the information in the user’s browser, which you don’t have access to, and this is where frontend error-logging tools can help you.
Frontend error-logging tools provide logs and other important information like users’ browsers, operating systems, page URLs, variable values, and other important data for debugging issues.
A good frontend error-logging tool should at least have the following functions:
Hence, the tool should log the frontend errors on the server. You can use the following tools to implement error logging:
In the previous four examples, monitoring techniques are performed in real time after your website has been deployed. In contrast, automated end-to-end testing can be performed before deploying your website to the production server. End-to-end testing, or e2e testing, allows you to test your application in a way that mimics your users’ interactions. With e2e testing, you can perform tests directly related to your website’s frontend. The best part about end-to-end tests is that you can configure workflows to automate them and save a lot of time compared to manually testing your website.
While writing end-to-end tests, you should focus on the most used paths on your website, which helps limit bugs and improve the UX of the website. Breaking larger workflows into smaller, more focused tests is another best practice for end-to-end testing. Smaller tests are easier to write, run, monitor, and troubleshoot.
The following testing methods form the basis for the e2e tests and are also used extensively to check frontend stability:
There are a variety of tools that allow you to set up automated end-to-end-testing in your applications:
In this article, you learned how website monitoring, API monitoring, real user monitoring, frontend error logging, and automated end-to-end testing fit on the frontend monitoring spectrum. You learned about why these techniques are important and some tools that can implement them. If you follow the highlighted best practices and opt for a monitoring tool that upholds them, you can guarantee a better experience for your website users.
Among these tools, Cronitor provides a solid solution for uptime monitoring, which is useful for API monitoring and website monitoring, two of the main techniques in frontend monitoring. Cronitor provides you with performance insights and instant downtime alerts that help you make your APIs more reliable.
Cronitor also allows you to perform checks on your CRON jobs and CI/CD systems. You can also set up a status page if you are building a public product and want to be transparent about the incidents and downtime of your websites or create private status pages to communicate incidents and uptime SLAs with your internal teams.