Watching Websites: A Report from the Frontlines of Web Monitoring

Average rating: ***..
(3.67, 6 ratings)

You’re busy running your website. You’re monitoring uptime and performance, tweaking and tuning to ensure a fast, reliable user experience. But it’s hard to tie your hard-won victories back to the business, because you lack an integrated understanding of end user experience.

From the smallest startup to the biggest global enterprise, companies that run websites have a fragmented understanding of their web health. Different teams are in charge of analytics, performance, usability, communities, customer feedback, and competitive analysis. Nobody has the big picture. The results are painful: Missed opportunities, frustrated users, spiraling costs, and a complete disconnect from what visitors really want.

As you figure out how to do more with less, you can’t afford this kind of wasted effort. You need complete web visibility so you can make careful adjustments and immediately see their impact. You need an integrated view of your website and your visitors.

For web operators, this workshop will show you what the rest of the company already knows about the website, and how you can leverage this information to improve the way you work. You’ll also learn how to tell the rest of the organization what you’re doing and how it affects the business as a whole. The presenters—authors of the upcoming book “Watching Websites,” an O’Reilly Media book currently scheduled for release at Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco—will use real-world examples from a wide range of tools and industries to show you how to build an integrated understanding of web health, and how to make web operations relevant to a broader audience.

You’ll learn:

How to share the health of your website with the rest of your organization

  • Making operational data relevant to marketing people
  • Tying capacity, performance, and uptime to business results and web analytics
  • How uptime and latency affect goals and conversion rates

How to get a complete picture of end user experience

  • A model for End User Experience measurement
  • Collecting performance data through testing, sniffing, and client-side instrumentation
  • Analyzing user experience in the context of conversions and outcomes
  • When to use synthetic testing and when to use real user monitoring
  • Using Web Interaction Analytics to identify bugs and tweak usability

How to integrate customer feedback and behavioral data with technical measurements of your website

  • Capturing and replaying sessions to fix customer support
  • Incorporating surveys and satisfaction metrics with performance measurements
  • Tying community activity to web traffic and capacity
  • Using Voice of the Customer data to understand whether performance is acceptable

Things the rest of the company knows about the web that you wish you did

  • Where users are coming from and how to optimize monitoring strategies
  • Networks, browsers, and bandwidth of your target markets
  • Communities that drive your workload and usage
  • Search engine statistics

How to choose the right KPIs for the kind of website you’re running

  • Strategies for media, transaction, collaboration, and SaaS sites
  • Using competitors to baseline performance and availability
  • Validating the effectiveness and ROI of changes with monitoring
Photo of Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Solve For Interesting

Alistair is a principal at analyst firm Bitcurrent, and a frequent contributor to the GigaOm family of sites. Prior to Bitcurrent, Alistair co-founded"Coradiant":, a leader in online user monitoring, as well as research firm Networkshop. He has held product management positions with 3Com Corporation, Primary Access, and Eicon Technology.

Alistair has coordinated and spoken at a wide range of industry events, including Interop, Structure, Web2Expo and Unconference. He is the author of numerous articles on Internet performance and security, and co-author of Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Applications from Prentice-Hall.

Alistair is currently working on the forthcoming Watching Websites for O’Reilly.

Photo of Sean Power

Sean Power

Watching Websites

Sean Power is a consultant, analyst, author, and speaker. He is the co-founder of Watching Websites, a boutique consulting firm focusing on early stage startups, products, and non-profits as they emerge and mature in their niches. He has built professional services organizations, and traveled across North America delivering engagements to Fortune 1000 companies. He helps executives understand their competitive landscape and the future of their industry. He has done technical editing for Troubleshooting Linux Firewall for Addison-Wesley, and co-authored Complete Web Monitoring with Alistair Croll for O’Reilly Media.

Sean has had first-hand experience creating and implemented social computing strategies with larger companies like MTV and smaller startups like Akoha. He is active in the social computing space, using Twitter and blogs as his communication platforms of choice. He often speaks on the subject of product acceleration, measurement, or social computing in clinics, workshops, presentations, and one-on-one training.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Tracy Lee
04/22/2009 12:18pm PDT

I loved this presentation. I look through the slides constantly and would love it if Sean and Alistair made a book that had the ppt plus light notes on the next page. If you’re looking for metrics and a how to for marketing strategy that dives deep into analytics and metrics, their ppt is wonderful. The presentation was for experienced analytics persons as well as starters. At their website,, you can find the book. They’re also pretty personable on Twitter @seanpower @acroll @metricsgods

Picture of Stephanie Quilao
Stephanie Quilao
04/22/2009 8:05am PDT

ditto. I know Alistair and Sean so I have some bias. However, their speaking style is engaging and personable. The arts & crafts exercise we did was not only fun but useful: Gets you thinking about how your visitors may see things.

Next time, for us more right brainers, I’d like to see a couple real life examples (more holistic view) where doing an analytics analysis resulted in making changes to a website in an effort to improve results ie. The website/page Before the analysis and then After making changes coupled with the improvements findings.

David Hodgson
04/22/2009 5:43am PDT

admittedly I do know both Alistair + Sean, so i’m not exactly unbiased, however I found their presentation to be excellent. They know their subject intimately and they are both entertaining and informative presenters.

Larry Wagner
04/01/2009 1:53pm PDT

I found it interesting – while a lot is “common” knowledge, there is a lot I came out re-thinking. Thank you.

Picture of Suzanne Axtell
Suzanne Axtell
04/01/2009 5:36am PDT

We’re letting speakers know that their slides are in demand, so hoping they’ll share them with us. They’ll be posted here just as soon as we receive them:

Picture of Carlos I. Gutierrez
Carlos I. Gutierrez
04/01/2009 3:51am PDT

Please post your slides!

  • 3Tera, Inc
  • Ascentium
  • Awareness
  • HiveLive, Inc.
  • ImageSpan
  • Jive Software
  • Juniper Networks
  • Kapow Technologies
  • Keynote Systems
  • LithiumTechnologies
  • Nokia
  • nomee
  • Qtask
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • Remy
  • TamTamy
  • Vignette
  • Yola (fka SynthaSite)
  • Znak
  • IBM
  • eBay
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • EffectiveUI
  • Germany Trade & Invest
  • NeuStar
  • ONEsite

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