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How to stay on top of third party web performance issues – keep your agencies close

19th December 2016

The proliferation of third-party solutions

Offering visitors a reliable online experience with content-rich functionality now demands the integration of hundreds of third-party solutions; to deliver back-office services such as card processing, as well as those focused on improving user experience – such as personalisation – plus tracking and analytics operations.

Obviously, while third-party solutions are intended to make everything function more smoothly, they do add to the site’s complexity and have the potential to affect performance if problems arise.

Keep third parties close to the action

The key to avoiding third-party performance problems is to ensure you have close relationships with your providers so you can act on problems more quickly and resolve issues before they begin to impact the customer experience. This means not only instituting rapid alert protocols – preferable via a direct system – but also sharing any relevant data with providers and enabling their tech teams to login, drill down and resolve problems as and when they arise.

This is where a good independent monitoring service comes in. Partly because it will flag performance issues dynamically and partly because it will provide the checks and balances needed to make sure the third-party solution is operating as promised. A realistic monitoring service will give you an honest overview of your site’s performance and help you to hold third parties to account.

Prioritise critical performance issues

Of course, not all problems are created equal. Some third-party components may throw up the odd glitch without adversely affecting performance, while some have the capacity to negatively impact the customer experience. If you employ a mission-critical third-party service, it’s worth running user journeys to monitor these specific providers. Additionally an app like Downdetector can help you to understand the context or scale of third party issues.

The best performance monitoring will be able to calculate issues with components that impact users independently of other issues, which saves time spent analysing slowdowns to decide what requires immediate action and what can wait. It’s always a good idea to monitor key journeys after integrating new third-party solutions to measure the true impact on end user experience.

Get a handle on tagging

Many third-party components now exist to enable marketing teams to gain the insight required to deliver the personalisation that will help maximise conversions. The snippets of code – or, tags – that enable third-party tracking and analysis are crucial to this process. Which is all well and good, but as tech teams are often left out of the loop, they may be unaware of the potential performance issues.

Some clients use Qubit tag management to help with maintenance of tags but some caution is advised here as Qubit can affect capacity if not implemented correctly.

It’s also important to ensure that you defer loading of external scripts until the page content has been fully loaded, so as not to impact page speed. Alternatively, consider asynchronous loading, so third-party scripts load in parallel with page content.

Plan for the future

Third-party problems are likely to increase as plugins proliferate and web management becomes ever-more complex.

To stay on top of your web performance you’ll need to instigate an effective monitoring solution that has the capacity to isolate and report third-party issues separately, is designed to alert third-party providers directly and that can cut through the error ‘noise’ to identify those timing problems that actually impact the end-user experience.

Get in touch with the experts

thinkTRIBE has lots of expertise you can tap into for extra tips and advice. Download the Jigsaw case study to learn how this leading retailer uses monitoring to gain insight into the performance of third-party components on its busy ecommerce site, check out our monitoring services page or browse through blogs that cover these issues and more.