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By Miles J. Nixon
Posted Friday, December 3, 2004

A good web site receives thousands of visitors a day. But how many of those turn into customers? People sign-up or buy when they feel comfortable with a web site. If it's down, slow, or broken in any way, the visitor will usually be uncomfortable and go elsewhere. Why? Well, do you like to shop in a retail store that is missing products, has no customer service, or you can't navigate? Probably not.

Many web sites have the equivalent of these situations, only they are represented to visitors as problems with the site. Remember your web site does the talking for you and visitors make judgments strictly on their experience at your site. When things do work the way they should work, the sign-up or checkout process is simple, the product or service is not confusing, and the whole experience feels right - the result is customers.

If this is the ultimate goal, corporate web site managers and web site owners must treat their web site with the same care they would a physical store or office. In the virtual world we don't have store managers, but we do have a relatively new emerging business category: online monitoring.

Online monitoring services mind the site/store and make sure it's open and ready to do business 24 hours a day, every day. These services can watch site performance, content, availability/reliability, and security. They can also provide site managers with immediate notification of problems via alerts. By watching a site from outside the firewall and not inside, online monitoring services identify problems that cannot be immediately seen from the inside.

Monitoring services can't assure you that your site will be financially successful, but they will help you maximize the quality, which is vital to any successful web site and web strategy.

Listed below is a checklist of things to consider when selecting and purchasing online monitoring services.

1.How is the service provider connected to the Internet?
2.How reliable is the monitoring services? Is it truly 24 x 7?
3.Is this their core business or is it an add-on to other web based services?
4.Call or email their customer service and see how quickly they respond.
5.Does the service monitor overall performance or just up/down?
6.Does the service reliably identify most site problems? How do you know?
7.Are the alerts and reports accurate and timely?
8.Does the service provide enough real information to debug the site problem?
9.Can you afford to subscribe to an online monitoring system?
Can you afford not to?

About the Author
This article was written by Miles J. Nixon, CEO of Quicksand Development LLC, developers of @watch (


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