What is Real User Monitoring (RUM)?

Real User Monitoring (RUM) is a way to track and measure how real people actually use a website. It is used to improve its performance. It means getting information about how long it takes for a website to load, how fast pages load, how long it takes for the server to respond, and other important metrics from real users who visit the site. The goal of RUM is to find performance problems and show how changes to a website affect how users feel about it. When website owners use RUM, they can make decisions based on data to improve their site's overall performance, user engagement, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Different types of Real User Monitoring

There are different types of Real User Monitoring (RUM), including:

All of these types of RUM have different strengths and use cases, and the best approach for a particular website will depend on its specific performance requirements and goals. By using a combination of these types of RUM, website owners can get an overview of their website's performance, and make data-driven decisions to improve the user experience and optimize their site for search engines.

RUMvision is a tool that is mainly focused on front-end RUM, but we also have options for server-timing. This way we can get more insights on the back-end as well.

Why real user monitoring is crucial for website optimization

When you want to get serious about optimising your Core Web Vitals and other page speed metrics, you can't avoid using Real User Monitoring.

If you have a website with a lot of traffic, you want to make sure that every visitor has a good experience under any circumstances. For example, think about the different smartphones and internet connection your users have. With RUM, you can get insights into this and can make data-driven decisions. You can also see the impact of a change right away to your real users. This way, you can be sure that your adaptation has had a positive impact on the UX

Understanding user behaviour and experience

Data can sometimes be difficult to interpret, but if you have a clear RUM dashboard, it is not difficult at all. Monitoring Core Web Vitals via RUM is perfect. For example, you can see how all types of visitors experience the Largest Contentful Paint on your website. If you don't have RUM, this actually becomes guesswork or you have to use a synthetic lab test, such as Google Lighthouse. This gives an indication of how 1 type of visitor experiences your website, but in reality there are many more.

RUMvision real user monitoring dashboard

RUM dashboard made by RUMvision to see your Core Web Vitals based on real users

Prioritizing optimization efforts based on data-driven insights

Measuring is knowing, just like in any field you want to know how someone experiences something before making an adjustment. A website works in exactly this way.

If you know how your visitors experience your website, you can make the right adjustments. Real User Monitoring simply gives you data-driven insights and way the prioritize optimization efforts.

The benefits of real user monitoring

Real User Monitoring (RUM) helps optimize websites in a number of ways, such as:

  1. Improved User Experience: RUM gives valuable information about how people actually use a website. This lets website owners find performance bottlenecks and make decisions based on data to make the user experience better.
  2. Identifying Performance Problems: RUM can help find performance problems, like slow server response times and network latency, that might not be obvious during testing. By fixing these problems, website owners can improve the way their site works as a whole.
  3. Keep an eye on Core Web Vitals: Core Web Vitals are a set of performance metrics that Google thinks are important for the user experience. You can use RUM to keep an eye on these metrics and make sure that a website meets Google's standards for performance.
  4. Better search engine optimization: A website that loads faster and responds better can help with search engine optimization (SEO). RUM can be used to track and improve how well a website works, which can help it get a higher ranking on SERPs.
  5. Decisions Based on data: RUM gives you useful data that you can use to make smart decisions about how to optimize your website. By looking at real user data, website owners can find places to improve and decide which changes will have the biggest effect on how users feel about the site.

Overall, RUM gives a full picture of how a website is doing. This lets website owners make decisions based on data to improve the user experience and make their site better for search engines.

We strongly recommend that sites set up their own real-user monitoring.

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How real user monitoring works

RUM works by getting information about how well a website works from the point of view of real users. Most of the time, this information is gathered by JavaScript snippets that are built into a website's code and send information back to the RUM tool.

Collection of data from real users

RUM tools use JavaScript snippets that are embedded in the website's code to collect information about how well the website works, such as the Largest Contentful Paint, Cumulative Layout Shift, First Input Delay, First Contentful Paint, Interaction to Next Paint, Time to First Byte, and other key metrics. This information is gathered in real time as people use the site.

Presentation of data in a dashboard for easy interpretation

The data collected after the snippet is executed is processed and analysed through various avenues. In this way, it is prepared to be passed on to the RUM tool.

This data is visualised in the RUM tool in different ways, this depends on the choices and type of data. A RUM tool often uses graphs, charts, tablet and timelines. The way these are presented depends on the RUM tool and what their customers like.

Actionable insights to improve website performance and user experience

Using the visualised RUM data, recommendations can be made. For example, you can get an alert if your page speed falls below a determined value or if you suddenly fail the Core Web Vitals. This RUM data makes it easier to create actionable insights.

Real user monitoring of the First Contentful Paint metric

Common use cases for real user monitoring

Because real user monitoring can essentially be used very broadly, there are also different use cases. For us, the focus is mainly or front-end real user monitoring and will therefore discuss ways in which RUM is used for this.

Tracking Core Web Vitals

The Core Web Vitals are the best method of determining the user experience in terms of speed for your visitors. It also counts as a ranking factor, but if you failed your Core Web Vitals assessment it won't. However, only the real experiences of visitors count, so with a lab data test like Google Lighthouse, you cannot find out how your page is perceived.

When a tool uses the CrUX dataset, RUM data is used. However, this is always 28 days behind and you don't know where a particular performance bottleneck is coming from.

With monitoring your Core Web Vitals and a RUM tool, you can use filters to point out page speed improvements and then also find a way of how to optimise these traps.

Monitor performance after a new release

Web shops, as well as websites, often have several releases per month. These often include new features and other functionality. When a plugin or module is added, this can also involve JavaScript. This then often results in a slower experience for people on a low-end device. But it can also simply change some code and/or add an image incorrectly. When you use RUM data to see how your performance and page speed is doing after a release you can act immediately, without having to wait 28 days for fresh data that Google gives you for free.

A RUM timeline that shows the impact on the FCP after disabling Google Optimize

Identifying user engagement and drop-off points

A key part of real user monitoring (RUM) is finding out where and why users stop using a site. It helps website owners and digital marketers figure out where people are interested in their site and where they aren't and leave. RUM can give valuable information about how users move through a website, what content they find most interesting, and where they are most likely to give up on their journey by keeping track of their actions and interactions.

This information is useful for improving the overall user experience and lowering the number of people who leave a site quickly. By figuring out where users drop off and where they stay, website owners can make decisions based on data to improve the user experience, improve conversion rates, and make customers happier.

See how you're performing on RUM data

With our free Core Web Vitals checker and historical Core Web Vitals you get to see how you're performing on real user data of your website. This data is collected by the CrUX dataset that Google makes available for free. There are multiple downsides when looking at a free tool like this:

With RUMvision you get to see all of the things listed above and way more. So if you want to get a hold of your pagespeed and Core Web Vitals reach out to us.