9 Great Tools For End User Experience Monitoring
November 22, 2021·8 min read
Your website's content and end user experience is ultimately what drives results. Even something as simple as a single second of delay loading a web page results in a 4% decrease in conversion rate. That's why paying close attention to end user experience is critical when building a great website.
Obtaining useful insights on how people use your product is notably difficult. Preparing, conducting, and summarizing user interviews is both time and money consuming. That's why one of the most efficient and affordable ways to get started is to use automated end user experience monitoring tools, software used to measure the quality of your web product from the perspective of the person using it.
Understanding why and how people use your online product is how you improve. It is said you cannot improve what you cannot measure, which is why at Panelbear we came up with this list of tools to measure end user experience.
Criteria to consider
End-user experience is so broad it’s difficult to come up with an exhaustive list of every criteria to take into account. For the purposes of this article, we divide the tools into three categories: performance monitoring, usage monitoring, and uptime monitoring.
- Performance monitoring tells us how the website performs from the end user perspective. That means traffic insights and web vitals including page size, page requests, and page speed, but can also include quality criteria like SEO indexing (how easy is it for someone to find you), mobile responsiveness, security, or even a carbon emission rating.
- Usage monitoring is about how the end user interacts with the website. Behavioural data based on event recordings correlated with metrics like conversion rates and session durations to peek through the minds of your customers: where do they go, what do they find interesting, or how long do they need to be convinced by your value proposition.
- Uptime monitoring gives you an insight on whether there is even a website to interact with to begin with. If your website is down nobody can access it, which leads to frustrated visitors and lost business.
9 essential tools to improve your end user experience
Here's a short summary of the tools we'll be covering:
- For simple web analytics and uptime monitoring, use Panelbear.
- For web vitals, Google Lighthouse.
- For additional performance monitoring metrics, try Vercel if you're already hosting with them.
- For carbon emission estimates, run Website Carbon.
- For network-level traffic monitoring, rely on Cloudflare.
- For behavioural data, screen recording, and user feedback, give Hotjar a try.
- For all-purpose marketing analytics, read about Google Analytics.
- For uptime monitoring, check out HyperPing.
- For public status pages, connect your uptime monitoring tool with Instatus.
Next we'll review each tool by category.
Panelbear is a web analytics platform that’s easy to use and set up. It’s the perfect light-weight solution for websites of any size that want to optimize their end user experience without fluff.
- Real-time traffic statistics
- Real-user performance monitoring: loading time and timing breakdown
- Email reports (weekly or monthly)
- Analytics Application Programming Interface (API) for automation and custom development
- Public and private dashboards with filters and breakdowns
- Easy metric comparison
- Performance monitoring with alerts and notifications
- Super easy to integrate with popular platforms like Wordpress, Slack, Webflow, and any static website generator.
Free to start or hobby projects. Paid plans start at $29 per month with up to 100,000 pageviews.
- Ensure your website stays fast.
- Lightweight script, only 4 kB!
- Real time traffic and performance insights.
- Custom events, and conversion rate tracking.
- Simple, responsive dashboards.
- If you're running anything serious, the free plan quickly reaches its limits.
- As it anonymizes visits, metrics that directly identify an individual are not available (eg. returning users, advanced demographics).
Google Lighthouse is an open source toolkit integrated in all Chromium browsers to measure the performance, accessibility, and security of all your web pages on any device.
- Performance monitoring: core web vitals, page size, page speed, responsiveness, design best practices, and security
- Simulations for development environments and all screen size
- Official application programming interface and software development toolkit
- The standard for web performance analytics
- Highly customizable
- More suitable for developers
- No out-of-the-box real user monitoring, only artificial tests
Vercel is a web hosting platform that also provides real user performance monitoring on static websites.
- Fast web hosting
- Monitor performance web vitals in production: First Contentful Paint, Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift
Free for non-commercial or low-traffic websites, then $20 per month per team member.
- Web hosting optimized for user experience with fast loading speed and continuous delivery
- Measurements for performance web vitals
- Aimed at developers
- Mainly for websites built using Next.js, Nuxt.js, or Gatsby
- No traffic metrics
Website Carbon allows you to estimate and display the carbon emission of your website, thus reflecting its performance in terms of page size and loading speed.
- Carbon emission estimation and comparison in CO2 equivalent
- Green server assessment from the Green Web Foundation
- Actionable advice and tools to reduce your CO2 impact
- Unique value proposition and insights.
- Free and easy to use.
- Open source: Carbon API
- The estimate remains an indicator rather than an accurate metric, as it only takes into account the front-end of your website and not the servers running them or the network consumption.
Cloudflare Analytics is a web traffic analytics tool that works on the server-side. It's a product offered by Cloudflare, well-known as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider, and targets those looking for simple analytics with a focus on privacy.
- Content Delivery Network to speed up your loading time and increase availability (DDoS protection)
- Traffic monitoring including unique visitor count, total requests, and bandwidth usage, and other basic metrics
Free for very basic traffic analytics, then $20 per month for unlocking the additional features.
- Works together with their CDN product
- API access for custom workflows
- The free plan only comes with very basic metrics
- Hard to justify a pricing upgrade for the other metrics
Hotjar is a user feedback tool which enables you to see how your users interact with your website. It includes session recording, feedback widgets and various other measurement tools.
- Scroll, click, and move heatmaps to see where your users look
- Screen recordings
- In-website surveys and suggestion boxes
Free up to 35 daily sessions, then $39 per month.
- Deep, unique insights
- GDPR compliant
- Generous free plan
Google Analytics provides a dashboard to visualize a plethora of traffic and business performance metrics, such as where your visitors come from, go to, and how long it takes them to move from one page to another. It also allows you to measure your conversion rates and create A/B tests to impact them.
- Traffic monitoring: users, sessions, page views, session duration, incoming traffic sources
- Key Performance Indicators metrics: custom conversion rates
- A/B testing with Google Optimize
Free up to 10M pageviews per month. Then $150,000 per year.
- Over 200 metrics
- Integrates with all website frameworks and building tools
- Well-known by marketing professionals
- Can have a significant impact on your website loading speed
- Cheap to start, but very expensive if your site becomes popular
- Complicated dashboards for most use cases
- Privacy concerns
HyperPing monitors your website every minute, and notifies you when downtime happens.
- Uptime monitoring from different locations around the world
- Receive notifications via SMS or a phone call
- Gives you response time insights from every ping
Starts at $29 per month for 15 monitors.
- Affordable prices
- Reliable service packed with features
- Simple dashboards
- No free plan available
- Many status page features only available in Pro and Business plans
Instatus offers status pages and third-party tool integrations with most popular tools. That way you can help your customers view your uptime and notify them in case of incidents.
- Status pages with unlimited subscriptions and teammates to monitor your uptime status
- Email and messaging app alerts and notifications
- API access for custom workflows
Free for basic public status pages, then $20 per month to unlock more features.
- Fast, reliable dashboards built with static site generators
- Variety of third-party integrations and API access to cover all use cases
- Fully hosted solution. That way, even if your site is down, the status page is up.
- Using your own domain requires a paid plan
- No built-in automated uptime monitoring, third-party tool needed
Don't know where to start?
Improving end user experience is a long-term investment. The number of variables to consider and monitor keeps increasing as users become more demanding, but the key is to start small and keep things simple as long as you can.
You can start by adding Panelbear to your site, to monitor its usage and performance. Optionally you can setup alerts for traffic spikes or slow pages. This monitors real activity on your site.
Also, it's a good idea to also have an uptime monitoring service. It monitors your site from different locations around the world. This is not based on real traffic, but on servers pinging your website every minute or so.