During the effort to integrate SmartBear’s AlertSite UXM into our Continuous Quality Lab’s Monitoring solution we swapped stories about our own experiences with poorly performing apps. Two came to mind, the WatchESPN failure during the USA versus Germany World Cup match and a mobile banking app based on a third party platform. These discussions prompted the focus on third party content’s impact on performance and availability.
For mobile apps, performance is only as strong as its weakest link. Often, that weakest link might be third party content.
Almost every app with widespread adoption leverages a third party component to enhance its functionality, usefulness, appeal or revenue. Imagine, for instance, a restaurant app without location-based functionality, or an e-commerce app without a shopping cart.
Indeed, third party content plays a pivotal role, but can unfortunately play an even greater role in poor user experience. To illustrate, here’s hypothetical example:
A global bank decided to build their mobile banking solution on a third party platform. Limited in-house skills drive the decision to outsource development rather than developing in-house. The decision was driven by cost, time to market and risk considerations to white-label the platform. Shortly after launching, consumers begin to experience performance-related issues not encountered in during functional testing: crashes, freezes, timeouts, error messages, etc. Vocal consumers began tweeting #
[company name] #BadApp. The tweet volume grew to the point where news outlets ran with the story. Because their contract failed to include monitoring
, they discovered the issues via Twitter, resulting in a delayed resolution effort. Far too late in the game, of course. Lacking enforceable SLAs and monitoring, they unintentionally surrendered visibility. The result was lost rather gained customers.
What’s the moral of the story?
Keep three things in mind with regard to third party content or platforms:
#1. Performance of third party content must be managed: If your key takeaway from the aforementioned story is to drop third party content, you missed the point. The value provided by third party is compelling. Therefore, ensure agreements include enforceable SLA and visibility. But don’t stop there, implement your own monitoring solution to obtain a true measure of end user experience.
#2. Proactively monitor user experience: Users are not interested in understanding the cause behind degrading performance. They simply want fast resolution. Proactively identifying issues as they arise requires a synthetic monitoring solution. This approach measures the performance of high-value transactions repeated multiple times per hour using the real devices under real conditions, just like your customers’ behavior.
#3. Start the shift towards DevOps to help identify issues sooner: For many teams, Dev, Test, Performance and Operations do not routinely share their respective insights that might help shrink mean time to resolution when issues arise or communicate potential design choices that potentially have performance impacts. Mobile app use cases are increasingly contextual and rely on a complex interplay of sensors, business logic and backend systems resulting in new performance requirements. The rise of push-based offers using location data is a good example. An offer received 10 minutes after a user has left a particular location might be “working.” But, from a performance standpoint, it failed. The complexity of mobile is one of the drivers pushing teams to embrace a DevOps culture helping operations and development work together to quickly identify and fix issues much faster than before. The same of course applies to third party components. The focus is shifting to user experience.
Teams are aligning to not only deliver new apps/features faster but also collaborating more to attack performance issues as they arise. Quality is not only becoming embedded or continuous during development but increasingly relying on the insights from continuous monitoring as well. This strengthened relationship will lead to new conversations, and ultimately, will foster a culture of continuous quality.
Unless the current trend completely reverses, third party integrations will continue to play a major part in delivering great user experiences. But it’s clear three necessary factors are securing the right commercial terms, proactive monitoring and good communication.
What should be added to the list? Share your tips for successfully leveraging third party content.