Mobile App Monitoring: Why, How, and What to Monitor

November 10th, 2016

Mobile / DevOps // Natalie

Mobile App Monitoring Metrics

Intense competition in the mobile applications market creates new requirements for the developers. In the face of such fierce competition, it is important to make one’s app easy to use as well as consistent with user expectations and requirements. Therefore, any problems related to app performance or “understandability” can lead to users deleting the app and setting off in search of an alternative.

How to avoid such problems, what to look for, and how to make a successful app - let’s talk about that.

What is end user monitoring?

Developers, due to some objective reasons, even with the help of QA specialists are not able to fully appreciate how the app will work once it gets into the hands of ordinary consumers. Moreover, they might not forecast all possible scenarios of users interacting with their product. This type of analysis requires a lot more people.

One of the most optimal ways to do it is to have users who are “beta-testers” at the same time. Even without realizing it sometimes, they are involved in the assessment and improvement of the end product. This type of performance tracking is called end user monitoring. It can be passive (when real people’s app usage is observed) and active (when user’s actions are simulated using special tools).

Besides this monitoring importance for developing effective marketing strategies, performance tracking and ongoing analysis of end user experience is one of the most important elements of product’s lifecycle after it has been launched.

Why Do You Need This?

Performance tracking helps to determine which of the product’s parameters should be improved, identify the ways these parameters can be enhanced, and gain a better understanding of the target audience and the usage trends (as well as to check your previous assumptions).

Received data will become the basis for making informed decisions about product changes that will ultimately lead to higher conversion rates, average order value, and user experience improvements. Otherwise, without a strategy, you risk taking ill-considered actions that can cost you both time and money.

Using the data, you can better understand what motivates your target audience, what they like or dislike about your product, what causes them difficulties, and if people stop using your app, at what stage does it happen or which component/feature causes it.

Example: games

You have created a mobile game, and you’re sure that all of its levels are interesting and exciting. However, it may happen that one of the levels is too difficult to get through and you can see that a large number of players simply stop playing the game altogether.

Using app monitoring strategies, you can identify what causes trouble and make “spot” adjustments, either by simplifying the level or adding various elements that help the user to pass it.

In such a way, you extend your product’s lifecycle. You also can find new opportunities for app optimization and monetization (for example, by offering special boosters or bonuses).

Example: e-commerce

Imagine you have developed and launched an online store with a beautiful design, competitive prices, and a wide range of products offered. However, at some point, you find that a lot of customers either just view the product information or add items to the cart, but leave before making the purchase. One of the possible reasons for this might be that your checkout process is too complicated for the ordinary user, which might not always be easy to identify during the testing phase (since your testers were better acquainted with the system and didn’t mind jumping through familiar hoops).

Using end user monitoring, you can identify where the problem lies and fix the issues, helping your business to prosper.

What else to look for?

One of the important tasks of the app performance monitoring is high load testing. In other words, it is important to test the functionality of both the application itself as well as all the infrastructure and resources to ensure its operation under maximum load.

No matter how brilliant and polished an app might be, they all might be rendered useless if the load on the app/servers exceeds the calculated numbers. Think of the PokemonGo, which became wildly popular. So popular, in fact, that its app server crashed.

The maximum load would be individual for each app/service and usually, it’s a compromise between the desires of the client (based on the size of the audience, number of downloads, etc.) and abilities (rational use of resources and funds).

By monitoring real app usage and its performance as well as simulating various scenarios, you can identify and eliminate weak points, find items that require more resources than others, and the items that can be optimized so that it takes fewer resources (for example, if a feature is rarely used and it’s not one of the core ones.)

As you plan to monitor during the product development and testing phases, you should include certain tasks into your schedule. For example, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive review of the app performance, including the analysis of the interaction between end users, the app, infrastructure, and network to detect and diagnose the problems.

When you diagnose the issues, exact diagnosis matters - try to reconstruct every incident in detail to establish the error causes and create a troubleshooting plan.

Monitoring systems

Thankfully, in our day and age, there are numerous instruments to use for monitoring the app performance as well as end user experience (besides directly asking them).

At Grossum, we use Google Analytics, Firebase, Mixpanel, and Fabric among others.

Want to see what mobile apps our team has worked on?

Author: Natalie

Natalie is a Project Manager who is a great team leader for her mobile development team. She is an expert when it comes to iOS and Android development and to building apps that win markets.

Tags Native Cross-Platform Development Hacks

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