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James CherryAuthor: James Cherry – CTO at Northdoor

Date: 31st March 2016

 

So how well do you know your applications users?

It’s an interesting question and one I asked to a web application vendor recently. The response was not unusual –

“I think our users genuinely like our application, we certainly don’t get many complaints and we have very few support calls raised each week. We’ve had a few hiccups on the way but nothing major. We did a CSAT (customer satisfaction survey) just over a year ago and the results were pretty good.”

I pushed a little further on the “hiccups”that had been experienced and it turns out that one release had a performance bug that affected users of a particular browser and the other was a UI change that stopped a particular process from being able to be completed. Both had been reported by the end users of the system and both were fixed in a couples of days.

The above example is common but thankfully set to change.

 

It’s time to know your application and its users!

Historically application analytics have been difficult to implement, either relying on the development team to add telemetry code to the application or using logs from the web platform or similar.  The end result typically includes capturing insufficient or wrong metrics, difficulty in combining the data to gain insight and reactive rather than proactive monitoring.

Microsoft Visual Studio Application Insights looks to address this with a service that delivers 3 key features:

  1. Application Availability – continuously monitor your application to make sure it is available and responsive and get alerts in real time on threshold based metrics and performance counters
  2. Exception and Performance Issue Diagnosis – Diagnose the root cause of issues quickly by analysing exceptions, crashes, failed requests and correlating them with events and traces
  3. Application Usage – Usage analysis lets you know how people are using your application and lets you focus development on the areas that matter.

Application Insights can be added to existing web applications (ASP.NET or J2EE) irrespective of where they are hosted (on-premises, data centre or cloud) and does not require redeployment of the application.  It can be added to Andriod, iOS, OSX and Windows apps giving a 360O view across platforms.

Using Visual Studio Application Insights means we can move from away from guessing about how our users interact with our application to knowing.  It means we can respond to exceptions and performance issues immediately rather than waiting for your users to tell us, and we can focus our energy on the areas that really matter.  The result?  A better application and a happier customer.

If you’re not using application analytics today and want to know more about how it can improve your business contact Northdoor today.

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