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The complete website monitoring checklist
Monitoring your website can be time-consuming and taxing if you don’t have the right processes in place. Without routine controls, undetected website glitches or server errors could impede customer satisfaction, cause cart abandonment, and see your conversion rate plummet overnight.
A website monitoring checklist can help you safeguard your site and catch damaging changes fast before they compromise your reputation, frustrate users, and stress out your team.
We’ve compiled a complete checklist your team can use to spot website performance changes before you lose sales, money, and user trust. Let’s dive in.
Why use a website monitoring checklist?
Whether you’re an ecommerce team, marketer, or product manager, website monitoring will help maintain and improve your site's performance. But without a checklist to guide you, steps can get missed and monitoring can quickly get overwhelming.
Here’s why a website monitoring checklist is important:
Having processes in place will keep you organized whether you’re a team of five or 50
Staying on top of the slightest metric change can help you prevent a negative user experience (UX) and loss of visitors, customers, and sales
A clear process enables you and your teams to react quickly and alert users in case of unplanned downtime
A strategic checklist lets you prioritize the most important metrics and checks instead of performing random controls without clear goals
Maintaining the quality of your website will benefit your sales results…and having a monitoring checklist offers a step-by-stepwise method to go about it. Think of checklists as a governance framework—they ensure we know our limits and help us prepare to stay within them.
The definitive 5-step website monitoring checklist
The key to effective website monitoring is balancing standard quantitative metrics with user behavior and product experience (PX) insights.
Monitoring quantitative data will give you a bias-free and straightforward view of your website's health. Precision statistics allow you to see if there are abnormal spikes or drops in the data and alert you to trouble.
However, numbers will only show you the problem, not the solution. Qualitative data like UX provides you with deep user insights to discover and fix barriers, enhance the customer journey, and turn users into customers.
Monitor your website across 5 levels:
Accessibility: is your website available and can users reach every page?
Performance: is everything working correctly?
Safety: is company and user data secure?
Agility: is your site fast enough?
Usability: can users navigate your site smoothly?
An effective process doesn’t stop at website monitoring performance metrics. Before you establish your checklist, get your team organized. Decide if you’ll focus on cross-functional collaboration where different roles and departments all participate in monitoring or hand over complete monitoring to one team. You should also consider whether you need to outsource any of the more technical aspects of the setup. Whichever option you choose, everyone involved needs to have clear responsibilities for a monitoring checklist to be successful.
Before you start monitoring, define standards for each metric so your team can spot red flags quickly. Year-on-year data can help you decide on your 'normal' rates.
Now, here’s your checklist:
1. Monitor downtime
It’s critical to monitor your outages and set up alerts so you can react quickly. If customers can’t find you, they won’t hesitate to turn to your competitors. Downtime not only affects traffic and conversion—your search engine ranking can also take a hit. Every minute of lost accessibility means a loss of customers, money, and visibility.
Metrics to monitor
URL: your URL is the only way to monitor if your site is available. However, checking your URL manually isn’t feasible as you’ll need to monitor it frequently and from different locations to be the first to know when your site is down.
Tools to use
Both tools allow you to set up frequent monitoring, email and text message updates, and customer alerts. Check out our comprehensive article on website monitoring tools for a full guide on tools that can help.
Set up automated 5-minute monitoring with real-time updates to ensure you’ll know about downtime as soon as it happens. Activate both text and email alerts in case an outage affects your main server and email delivery.
See downtime monitoring in action
Imagine you’ve just launched a new product page for running sneakers on your ecommerce website. Emails communicated the new release to subscribers with a special discounted offer for same-day purchases. Then, your page crashes. Maybe you don’t see your email but, because you’ve established a robust monitoring system, within minutes, a text message alerts you to the downtime. You alert the teams involved and notify your users.
Automated downtime monitoring helps you identify the issue and solve it—maybe by getting your site up and running, then quickly crafting an email to your subscribers apologizing for the downtime and offering free shipping to the affected users to keep them loyal.
2. Monitor conversions
A healthy bottom line depends on healthy website performance so make sure you set up conversion monitoring using both qualitative and quantitative metrics.
To understand how to incorporate both kinds of data, monitor specific website conversion metrics.
Metrics to monitor
Traffic sources: you want to ensure your traffic sources remain diversified and users can arrive on your site from each one. For example, if you’re relying on organic traffic and Google changes its algorithm overnight, your lead capture will crash and affect micro-conversions like filled-out contact forms, category page views, and cart additions.
Conversion rate: monitor the conversion rate of each traffic source. Is one source converting while another has dropped off completely?
Macro-conversion rate: if you’re an ecommerce site, you’ll want to monitor if your customer's sales rate is stable. If it suddenly falls, you’ll need to investigate.
Tools to use
Use Google Analytics to monitor traffic sources and micro-conversions, conversion rate per traffic source, and pre-defined goals (macro-conversion). If you spot issues, use the next two tools to understand what’s happening and how to fix it.
Uptrends can help you track your customer’s path from traffic source to your website to show you if there are connection problems on specific devices, platforms, or browsers. For example, if you spot drops in mobile-device use, Uptrends will show you if there are API issues or if it’s a question of a broken click-through link.
Hotjar provides product experience insights to understand your customer’s journey from the lead funnel through to the sales funnel, so you can decide how to implement the right solutions for them. Numbers alone won’t always reveal the best path: Hotjar’s Session Recording tools show you how users interact with your site throughout their visit while Heatmaps let you know where users are engaging with your pages and what they’re scrolling past. With Hotjar Surveys and Feedback, you can tap into the voice of your customer and discover deeper qualitative insights.
Website conversion is your most important metric so you want to monitor it bi-weekly if not daily to catch any sudden drops to protect your bottom line.
Conversion monitoring in action
If a macro-conversion like sales rates drop, yet your APIs and traffic-source clickthrough links are working, you can use Session Recordings to watch customers’ behavior once they’re on your site. You may discover users are abandoning their carts in an ecommerce store because of a glitch in the check-out button. By further investigating and filtering for rage clicks, you can pinpoint whether users are frustrated with the check-out link on certain pages versus others. UX analytics will save you time and get to the heart of the matter.
Pro tip: while quantitive data show you figures for users bouncing from your site, qualitative information reveals the cause and keeps you connected with the human aspect behind your tech stack and monitoring statistics. Hotjar’s product experience insights tools like Recordings and Heatmaps take you on your user’s journey and help you develop user empathy. Whether users are adding items to their cart, making a payment, or subscribing, you can ensure there are no barriers to goal completion and guarantee customer delight with deep insights.
3. Monitor site health
Speed is paramount to a website’s success and health. A slow site can frustrate your customers, lower your conversions, and impact your SEO ranking. Like downtime, if potential customers have to wait before they can view pages, load images, or check out, they’re going to abandon your site for a competitor’s.
Metrics to monitor
Page speed: to keep users on your site, monitor the speed of your landing, product, and category pages, especially for ecommerce. The optimal page load speed is between one and two seconds—three seconds or more is considered slow.
Bounce rate: monitor how many users leave your site after viewing a single page. An average ecommerce bounce rate falls between 20 and 45 percent. You want users to browse your site just as they would a brick-and-mortar store. The deeper they dive into your site, the more likely they are to convert.
Core web vitals: check your image and video load time, button and link click-through functionality, and layout stability. Poor performance on any of these elements can interfere with UX and cause your customer abandonment rate to soar.
Tools to use
Google Analytics: covers core web vitals and bounce rate
StatusCake: in addition to core web vitals and page speed, StatusCake also monitors domain expiration notification and website uptime
Hotjar: a combination of color-coded heatmaps, recorded sessions, and live feedback can help you discover the reason for high bounce rates and low-performing core web vitals
Monitor your site health daily.
Site health monitoring in action
Zenprint used Hotjar Session Recordings and Heatmaps to understand why they had a high bounce rate on their product page. As they dived in to experience their site through their users, they discovered a design glitch that affected the product pricing table. Once they fixed the glitch, their bounce rate decreased by 7%.
4. Monitor security
A healthy site is also a protected site. Users need to feel confident their browsing experience—and personal data—is safe.
If you’re a larger company, you’ll likely delegate cybersecurity monitoring to your dev department, though you’ll want to understand how any security issues could affect your users’ experience. For smaller teams, there are many ways to keep an eye out and protect your site from hackers and attacks. If you use platforms like Shopify, you’ll already have a layer of protection in place. If not, use a complete cybersecurity monitoring tool to measure technical metrics.
Metrics to monitor
Homepage: check your homepage to see if there are any changes, like a new pop-up color, links you never added, or an unplanned redirect. These are tell-tale hacker signs.
Collaborator access: whether you have multiple employees or collaborators, monitor how they access your site and which devices they use. In the 2021 Egress Data Breach Survey, 94% of data breaches came from within the organization with human error as the underlying cause. To mitigate the risks, provide limited access to your collaborators, remove anyone who’s no longer part of your team promptly, and give new users restricted access. Then make sure they use secure passwords or VPNs.
Tools to use
Intruder: this complete vulnerability monitoring tool protects your entire tech stack. It includes continuous security checks, compliance issues, weakness identification, and surface monitoring.
StatusCake: this versatile tool can monitor your site's uptime, page speed, domain expiration notification, SSL, and server.
Hotjar’s Session Recordings: recordings help you spot any potential security issues, and all the data you gather with Hotjar is encrypted and super secure.
Check your home page daily, your collaborator access monthly, and run a complete vulnerability check with Intruder or StatusCake in continuous monitoring mode.
Security monitoring in action
Ecommerce sites are especially vulnerable to attacks because they’re dealing with sensitive customer data like personal identification and credit card information. Let’s say you run a daily internal vulnerability scan with Intruder and find a new employee is using a weak password to access your site. You can address the situation immediately, explain how to create a strong, unique password, and save your website from data breaches and cyber-attacks.
5. Monitor usability
Usability should be at the heart of any monitoring website checklist. By prioritizing a smooth UX, you can empathize with your users, find the best solutions to their barriers, and keep delighting them so they’ll return and refer your site to others.
Metrics to monitor
Page views: monitor how many users land on specific pages. For a fashion ecommerce site, high product page views with low interaction rates like product description or size click-throughs can signal a problem.
Scroll depth: measure how users consume your page content both vertically and horizontally. If users remain at the top of your page, while your most important content is located below the fold, evaluate whether the design is optimal or if there’s an error.
Session duration: check how long a user stays on your website. An average ecommerce session duration is 2-3 minutes. Shorter time frames can signal usability issues.
Tools to use
Google Analytics: to monitor page views
Hotjar Heatmaps and Session Recordings: use Heatmaps to monitor scroll depth and Recordings for session duration. You can also complement your initial findings with live Feedback and on-site and external Surveys to better understand why users limit their scrolling to a certain page section or why someone spends less than one minute on a product page.
Monitor page views daily. You can monitor usability metrics weekly or monthly depending on your data and how many website changes you implement.
Usability monitoring in action
Vimcar saw the importance of usability when, after a website rebranding, they lost product page views from one user country in particular. Sure, they could have A/B tested, but without a clear indication of what blocked users from viewing, it could have been a three-month-long hit-or-miss game. Instead, they wanted to see where users got lost and how they interacted with their product. They used Heatmaps to discover users were clicking on unlinked images instead of the captions below, and Session Recordings showed that the CTA was below the fold on mobile. They confirmed their findings with on-site Survey tools, made two quick adjustments, and their page views returned to normal.
When it comes to monitoring website performance, too often people will fall into the trap of relying on quantitative insights alone. This can be a problem because numbers in isolation can be deceiving, and they also don't enable you to build a comprehensive enough picture of how your website is performing.
Know when and how to perform a pulse check with our website monitoring checklist
Monitoring your website doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you have the right framework in place.
A website monitoring checklist can ensure you and your teams are aligned with the right metrics, use the most effective tools, and have systems in place to catch any threatening errors, bugs, or design glitches in time to ensure healthy performance, keep your bottom line intact, and improve your UX.
Remember, only balanced metrics that combine numerical data with user insights can guarantee complete website monitoring coverage because numbers will only give you a partial glimpse of site problems.