To get a picture of RUM (Real User Monitoring), imagine your website is an ant farm, and your users are the ants. RUM clears the walls of your farm, letting you see exactly where the users come from, what they do, what problems they have, and how long it takes for them to interact with your site.

In short, RUM gives you an idea of what kind of user experience your site is offering.

It is a testing technique based on real user interactions. RUM monitors actual users and captures performance data to shape key metrics, like transaction paths, responsiveness, and page load times. The testing tools analyze users’ experience in real-time, observing their interactions with a website or application.

Why is RUM important?

Let’s consider the ant farm again: you enjoy watching your ants, so you will do your best to make them comfortable. Visitors to your site also should be comfortable during their stay. But, unlike the ants on the farm, they can easily go away if they are not having a good time. So it’s important that you know how they feel in order to keep them navigating your pages for as long as possible.

RUM gets data about actual users interacting with your site, unlike synthetic monitoring techniques, which use automated tools, or robots, that imitate user actions in a planned manner and get results based on those actions. Both approaches give different views of your website behavior, so to better understand issues affecting user experience, the ideal tools and techniques should combine real user and synthetic monitoring to show the complete picture.

Uptrends

To implement the Uptrends RUM, you just have to copy and paste a code snippet on your webpages. Once you do that, the Uptrends script begins collecting data about your users’ experiences. That data feeds a series of RUM dashboards you can access immediately to check key metrics such as page usage, performance per country, browser usage, and more.

Uptrends monitoring solution combines actual users’ data with the results of synthetic monitoring tests performed by their software. Uptrends’ synthetic monitoring connects from one of its 209 worldwide locations to your site at specified intervals, performing interactions, and collecting results data. Combined results offer a complete picture of your website’s overall health and performance.

You can see how your site performs from a users’ perspective, and get insights into profiling these users from web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. The data becomes visible in your dashboards in minutes, letting you see the full picture by collecting data from all page views.

Boomerang

Implemented as a JavaScript library, Boomerang RUM measures page load times, performance metrics, and overall characteristics of your users’ browsing experience. To set up the tool, all you have to do is include the library in your pages and call an init method. Once the library is installed, the RUM data begins to flow to your server for further analysis.

To avoid the “observer effect” (affect the results of an experiment just by observing it), Boomerang’s goal is to run without adding load time to the pages. Its scripts can be loaded in an asynchronous way, so even if boomerang.js is unavailable, the scripts won’t delay the page load.

Boomerang is open-source, so there are no fees to pay. You just download it from its GitHub repository, install it following the detailed instructions, and start monitoring your users. You are encouraged to contribute to Boomerang’s development, adding plugins, and adapting it to different needs. It has an extensive plugin architecture and is able to work with traditional, classic websites, and modern ones, including single-page apps.

Catchpoint

An ideal monitoring solution should not leave any blind spot unnoticed.

That’s precisely what Catchpoint End-User monitoring solution promises to do. When you mix heterogeneous environments, such as cloud, mobile, and IoT, the points of failure start to multiply. Meanwhile, end-users expect fast page loading times across always available devices, and you need complete visibility into the users’ perspective to improve their experiences and resolve issues promptly.

It does more than just collect data and show it in dashboards. It sets up an alert system that sends contextual warnings when performance drops from expected levels. Its dashboards are algorithm-powered, which means that they show where problems are originating. They also show historical and unaggregated data, so you won’t miss the details that matter.

When you make changes to an application, those changes not always result in better response times or greater reliability. Catchpoint monitoring helps you model and validate performance when conducting a/b tests of new releases, viewing request level details for pages visited by real users.

Raygun

Users value their time more than ever: 40% of them will abandon a website after 3 seconds of waiting for a page to load. So you need to give them a swift experience, discovering and resolving the performance bottlenecks they encounter. To do that, Raygun offers actionable data from real user sessions, allowing you to diagnose why they could be having poor experiences.

It could help you improve users’ experiences, convert more sales, and enhance your front-end performance.

Raygun lets you see clearly who is using your application and what specific problems they are encountering. It lets you see each individual user’s session, identifying problematic areas, and their possible solutions. The tool also detects automatically front-end performance issues that could be causing frustrating load times. By retracing the paths users took to navigate your site, you can analyze where they encountered errors, where the pages took too much to load, or where they simply abandoned the session.

Pingdom

Pingdom unified, holistic RUM platform takes care of monitoring your users’ activities to rule out the guessing and start making decisions based on actual visitor’s data. To begin monitoring with the Pingdom, you just need to add a small JavaScript snippet to your pages, which barely adds tiny performance overhead.

You will immediately begin seeing how your visitor’s data correlates to platforms, countries, and browsers, no matter if they are just a dozen or more than a million.

You can enter the URL from where you want Pingdom to collect data and the expected satisfaction parameters. The comprehensive visualization options will give you an understanding of how changes in performance could affect your visitors’ experience. That way, you will be able to take action in time, before your business gets impacted.

Whether your site has one or a thousand pages, with Pingdom RUM, you can analyze how your visitors experience each one of them. RUM’s page grouping feature offers aggregate data showing performance figures for similar pages.

Pricing plans start at about $ 42 per month for standard features and scale up to $ 228 per month for a professional set of functions. This fee includes not only RUM but also server monitoring, alerting, and transaction monitoring, among other goodies.

Rapidspike

A lightweight, customized RUM script is all you need to setup Rapidspike’s RUM monitoring. This script is served over a secure connection, so you won’t need to worry about generating vulnerabilities. Once installed, the RUM monitor will begin collecting traffic volume and page load speeds from your visitors, identifying the geographical location, browser, and device used.

By recording live data from real users, you will be able to identify performance issues in real-time and optimize your site’s potential regardless of user location or technology.

A suite of graphs and tables lets you analyze vital traffic metrics that show precise performance figures. Those figures show user download times broken into network, server, and browser download times, letting you know where you need to solve latency issues and eliminate bottlenecks. Results are specific per page, to help to do an in-depth analysis of each of the pages within your site.

Elastic

If you are already housing system metrics in Elasticsearch, you can expand that to application metrics with Elastic open-source APM (application performance monitoring) tool.

APM has a broader scope than RUM because it aims to increase application availability and reduce downtime by identifying bottlenecks. Elastic’s dedicated UI lets you easily do this job and concentrate on solving problematic changes at the code level. As a result, besides improving your application performance and your users’ experience, you get an enhanced and more efficient source code and a reduced development-testing-deployment cycle.

By using distributed tracing, Elastic lets you string transactions together to understand how your services are interacting fully. It lets you visualize service calls across them, detect latency problems, and identify the components that need to be optimized. The performance metrics you collect with Elastic APM tools are sent to Elasticsearch in order to visualize them through Kibana preconfigured dashboards.

Elastic uses machine learning features to detect anomalous response times in a proactive way. Alerts sent by email or Slack will keep you up to date on how your code is performing, without the need to keep staring at the dashboards. To begin using Elastic APM, you need to register in Elastic Cloud and set up an APM server following some easy steps. The pricing plans let you just pay for the resources you need and deploy them the way you want.

SpeedCurve

SpeedCurve adds many comparison dimensions to the data it collects about your users. For example, it lets you see which of your competitors are faster than you when serving content, and compares synthetic data with RUM to show you the full picture. By correlating web performance with user experience, the engagement charts give you an understanding of the impact of page slowdowns on your site’s bounce rate.

The tool is easy to set up, and it generates great visualizations, like side-by-side videos and filmstrips you can use to prove your point to your teammates. You can track any metrics you want, including conversion rates and cart size, and A/B test results. To give you a detailed view of page loading times, SpeedCurve lets you measure the rendering speed of individual page elements, letting you know exactly when the most crucial content renders.

Working together with Google Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, SpeedCurve offers a list of performance rules you can tick off to improve your users’ experience. You can use the SpeedCurve Deploy API as part of your continuous integration process and track the impact of code changes between successive deploys automatically.

Sematext

Sematext RUM data gives you full resource waterfall views, pinpointing the assets that are slowing down your pages. For each page-load event, you can see the time spent, differentiating how much it spent in the back end and how much in the front end.

All resources are profiled, including images, fonts, JavaScript files, and stylesheets. You can drill down by URL, browser type, geolocation, operating system, and more.

Single Page Applications are supported by Sematext RUM, regardless of the framework used: React, Ember.js, Angular, Vue.js, etc. You get web app monitoring for all fired HTTP requests and resources, identifying performance bottlenecks to ensure the highest user satisfaction.

Sematext monitors your Apdex Score, the standard index that measures application performance and user satisfaction. By defining threshold times for page-load responses, HTTP requests, and individual on-page transactions, you can analyze the Apdex score of your app or website to detect what could be affecting it. You can sort through the pages with the lowest or highest satisfaction score, to see why they are performing so good or so bad.

You can get it started with the free. If you want to monitor a bigger volume and access to premium features, such as email alerts, anomaly detection, unlimited saved queries, etc., you need to opt for the Standard or Pro plans, which cost $ 50 and $ 60 per month, respectively.

Conclusion

The difference between an anthill and an ant farm is that you can’t see what is happening inside the anthill; you only get to see the ants coming in and out. Don’t let your website be an anthill. Turn into an ant farm by adding RUM monitoring; the equivalent of crystal-clear walls that give you a complete view of what’s happening inside. And use that insight to give your ants — sorry, your users — a pleasant and rich experience.