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Mobile app monitoring tips and tricks: What to measure and monitor?

6 essential mobile app monitoring tips and tricks

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Guy Offer, R&D Director, APM Apps, HP Software

Forrester calls it the "mobile moment"—the instant users decide if they love or hate your app. If you want to feel the love, you need a smart approach to mobile app monitoring.

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Top six things to measure and monitor

To get a full picture of the user experience, performance monitoring must adhere to the following core tenets.

  • Measure from the user's perspective: To understand the user experience and measure performance, stability, and resource utilization in real time, the way the user perceives them.
  • Focus on what matters: Context is key. How many users were impacted, with which user action, and on what device, operating system, and app version?
  • Fix important problems first. Accurate, relevant metrics help prioritize QA and development efforts to match business impact.

Here's how this translates to a mobile app monitoring strategy:

1. Measure launch time & resume time

It's important to measure both start time and resume time. Startup usually takes longer than resuming an app running in the background. Both launch times impact the user experience, so it's important to capture each.

2. Measure UI response time

Measure UI response time the way it's perceived by users. Traditionally, mobile app monitoring measured network request times. The problem is that the network is only one factor in response times. The user cares when the action completes, not when the network responds.

In addition, measure response times by device or OS. This allows the product manager to:

  • Focus on one platform at a time
  • See and respond to performance issues
  • Assign QA and development resources accordingly

Equally critical: Measure the speed of all user actions but rank them by importance. Focus on issues that affect the most users and have the highest business impact.

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3. Measure crashes and their business impact

It's important to track crashes because they drive users away. But some mobile app monitoring solutions track "exception stack trace" or "error type" metrics that aren't directly relevant. Instead, you need to know:

  • The user actions that caused the crash
  • The number of unique users affected by this crash
  • How different types of crashes impact your business

This approach enables mobile product managers to prioritize which crashes are most urgent.

4. Measure errors

Track the user actions that result in errors, such as an HTTP error from a specific URL. Specifically, you should capture:

  • The total number of users who received an error
  • The user action that resulted in the error
  • The percentage of actions that resulted in at least one error
  • The app version number

In addition, monitor the daily average of users with errors on app launch.

5. Measure battery consumption

Users are very sensitive to battery life. Everyone has experienced the frustration of seeing that some mobile app is draining the battery too quickly, without knowing which app is doing the draining. Be sure to measure the battery consumption of your mobile app, along with other critical resources, such as data plan impact and memory usage.

There are many well-known reasons for battery drainage. If your app is the culprit, get it into compliance with best practices. If necessary, rethink your app behavior. Is it really important for your app to check for new updates every second/minute/hour? Take whatever action is needed to keep power consumption at an absolute minimum—so you can keep user satisfaction at an absolute maximum.

6. Measure cellular data consumption

If it bothers you when a mobile app devours your cellular plan's data allotment, you're not alone. A recent Dimensional Research study found that 20 percent of respondents stopped using an app due to heavy data usage.

It's important to pinpoint which user actions consume the most data. Specifically, you need to measure:

  • The kilobytes of data consumed per minute of use
  • The percentage of data consumed by a specific user action
  • The total amount of data per cellular hit
  • The consumption by app version
  • The total number of users

Equally important, you need to break down cellular consumption by service so you can tell how much data is consumed by third-party services, such as LinkedIn or Stock.com, as well as the data consumed by your own mobile app.

Master the mobile moment

It only takes a second for people to give your mobile app a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Smart mobile app monitoring can help you make the verdict go your way.

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