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Web Application Performance Problems: Top 6 Metric Reasons

We've consistently highlighted the excellent suitability of Ruby on Rails as the ideal framework for rapidly constructing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). This assertion holds as valid today as it did when we first made it.

Nevertheless, we've observed a common trend as the user base begins to expand. The initial hurdle that usually emerges pertains to common performance issues. In this comprehensive article, we're set to dissect this phenomenon - why it happens, and importantly, to debunk the misconception that it's an inherent flaw of the Ruby on Rails framework.

To shed light on this subject, we'll journey through the intricate landscape of critical metrics to determine why the application performance suffers. By unpacking these metrics, we aim to provide a clearer understanding of the factors contributing to web performance problems as your user base increases. From the time to load JavaScript, HTML, and CSS elements, to server response times, we'll look in-depth at each component and its role in the overall perceived performance.

What are Key Application Performance Metrics?

The significance of app performance metrics, often called application monitoring metrics or performance metrics, is undeniable. These measurable insights delve deep into software applications, evaluating their efficiency, responsiveness, and reliability. These metrics play a pivotal role in assisting developers and operations teams in swiftly identifying potential performance concerns. This, in turn, paves the way for informed decisions geared towards optimization, ultimately resulting in an elevated user experience.

Within the framework of application performance metrics, the concept of the Time to First Byte (TTFB) takes center stage. Precisely measuring the interval between a user's request and the server's subsequent response, this metric wields a crucial influence on the initial impressions formed during loading.

Moreover, the realm of Core Web Vitals becomes of paramount significance. This encompasses fundamental performance metrics, backed by Google, that gauge the quality of user experiences.

Expanding beyond these, the Time to First Paint metric captures the time taken for initial content to grace the user's screen, directly shaping their perception of loading speed. Concurrently, the Speed Index presents a precise visual depiction of content loading progression, mirroring perceived speed.

Time to Interactive ushers users into engagement mode, offering insights into the overall responsiveness of the application.

In the realm of infrastructure, the importance of DNS Lookup Time cannot be overstated, as it swiftly translates domain names to IP addresses, effectively curtailing delays. The Error Rate, acting as a precise gauge for user interaction errors, highlights the application's stability.

The metric of Peak Response Time emerges as an instrumental indicator, spotlighting maximum response durations that significantly shape user satisfaction.

Optimization strategies bring these metrics to life. Strategies include bundling files to trim server requests and incorporating network caching to expedite load times. These metrics redefine monitoring practices, fostering seamless operations, heightened user satisfaction, and the triumphant success of applications.

Importance of Application Performance Measurement

Measuring application performance serves multiple purposes:

  • User Experience Enhancement: Ensuring a seamless and responsive user experience is a top priority. Monitoring application metrics enables the identification of slowdowns, crashes, or other performance issues that might disrupt user interactions.
  • Issue Detection and Resolution: By tracking key performance indicators, development teams can quickly identify and address performance bottlenecks, minimizing the impact of potential disruptions.
  • Resource Utilization Optimization: Application performance metrics offer insights into how system resources, such as CPU, memory, and network bandwidth, are utilized. This information helps optimize resource allocation for efficient performance.
  • Capacity Planning: Monitoring metrics over time aids in predicting future resource requirements, supporting effective capacity planning and scaling strategies.

Metric Reasons for Web Application Performance Issues

Reason #1: Focusing mainly on MVP

The first step to understanding this topic is that quickly-built products are not always built with the correct approach. MVP development is usually focused on delivering a base version of a web application, one that could be used to start building a client base. MVPs perform operations set for them in the project requirements, but not much else. This means that performance can sometimes become less of a concern - and turn into a problem when the user base grows.

At iRonin, we avoid this problem by following the highest software development standards. We can improve app performance on many levels:

  • database queries,
  • response times,
  • using external solutions to take over app responsibilities,
  • codebase cleanup technique,
  • software architecture.

Reason #2: Database queries = longer load time on web application

Inefficient database queries are a common bottleneck for Rails technology applications. When more and more users interact with an application, the product performs slower. And let's not forget that your end user might also use a browser that's not exactly helping the issue of page load times.

The first thing we want to do is check database queries, which are often written inefficiently. Usually, there are N+1 queries to fix, as well as over-fetched data which is not used, and we need to preload the necessary data.

Fixing queries will boost the performance of your application immediately. Instead of sending multiple queries to the database to fetch data, we can do it using a straightforward query. Additionally, computing often occurs within the application. Moving calculations to the database is another way of increasing performance.

Reason #3: Response time & performance issues

Continuously monitor the performance of your web server and how long time it takes to load the page.

Many users are not patient. When a page continues loading for too long, the average user will quit and look for another solution with better web performance. But we can decrease the response time of a web application by using caching. It will reduce response time on static pages and on pages that serve similar data or data that is rarely refreshed.

Optimize your website for a better response time of an application, and speed up your load time which will increase the ratio of users who stay on your web and the overall performance of your website. They may then convert to potential new clients or regular application users.

User experience taught us to use external performance metrics software to cache application data, e.g. Redis. It’s the most popular service for this kind of operation. We also use caching for static pages, so whenever a user enters this type of web page, the application doesn't process the whole request. It just serves the cached page and boosts the web application’s performance altogether.

Reason #4: Long-lasting requests

As we stated, optimization is the key when troubleshooting your web app performance.

Applications can have problems with long-lasting requests. For example, user registration may require too much time. We can fix this problem by moving code related to some operations to external services to relieve the app’s performance.

Often, actions within an app are bloated, and all operations that should be done after a trigger event occurs (e.g. upon user creation), are executed immediately and within the same Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests to fetch. We can move these 'after' actions to an external service to be performed later on, or we can perform them asynchronously. For this, we like to use Sidekiq or Rake, allowing these tools to complete tasks that don't affect the performance of your web application or are not performed regularly.

A real-life example of improved website performance

We once introduced the caching of API responses in an application. This reduced unneeded API requests. Whenever a user entered a product page, the product data was loaded. Still, when the product was visited a second time, the data was already stored in the app, so the product was displayed instantly. Meanwhile, there was a check in the background to ensure the data had not been changed. From the user side, this solution feels very efficient, as the user does not need to wait to load up the products they’re browsing.

Reason #5: Too many items

Some application contains a lot of items. If so, filtering through them may take a lot of time. Basic searching tends to be done by simple SQL queries, which are perfect for a low amount of data. Even searching in an extensive database might be done efficiently with SQL, but in most cases, when the data set is large, some new search options are required, adding complexity to the app.

We can solve this conundrum by improving SQL searching or moving the searching process to Elastic search, an external service dedicated to searching. It provides many solutions and plugins to control data and perform searching almost instantly. Whenever a search box is implemented in an application, the most popular way to list items is based on an entered phrase. Elastic search allows us to highlight the searched phrase in the list, for example, improving the experience. As an external service, it also relieves the database from all this computing.

Reason #6: App architecture

If an app’s architecture, which isn’t increasing performance sufficiently, we can reduce often reduce the number of allocated objects and reduce server memory usage. In extreme cases, this might even reduce the cost of hosting the application.

We like to use design patterns like SOLID, DRY, decorators, form objects, policies, etc. This allows us to have better control over application code and refactor bloated controllers or services that may affect performance. From the developer’s point of view, refactoring an application architecture increases readability. The whole code base becomes more apparent, which makes it easier to implement new functionalities.

How to Improve Web Application Performance? Conclusions

In the dynamic landscape of web development, optimizing application performance is paramount. Addressing and improving application performance becomes mission-critical, essential for delivering a smooth and satisfying user experience. The good news is that a comprehensive range of solutions stands ready, poised to confront these challenges head-on directly.

From subtle adjustments to robust optimization strategies, these remedies span a broad spectrum. Some seamlessly integrate during initial development, while others require meticulous code revisions. The inherent versatility of these approaches ensures that, regardless of your application's current state, practical solutions to application performance improvement remain well within your reach.

If your user base faces dissatisfaction due to the underwhelming performance of web application, the combined hindrance of latency and sluggish calculations can obscure user experiences. However, there's a silver lining. Our arsenal features tailored remedies, designed to alleviate these concerns and elevate your application's performance.

iRonin: Expertise in Web Application Optimization

Answering the question of how to improve application performance, at iRonin, our extensive commercial experience is dedicated to enhancing existing applications and optimizing web application performance. Our specialty lies in in-app upgrades, where we diligently refine user experiences. The outcome? A transformed software landscape that distinctly showcases our expertise in steering your software toward enhanced efficiency and a more user-friendly horizon.

Bulletproof your development with remote team augmentation

Elevate your application's performance and anticipate potential issues by leveraging web application performance metrics.

Our collaboration will focus on aligning best practices, content delivery networks, and tailored monitoring tools to suit your application's unique requirements perfectly.

Join forces with us to ensure optimal performance and proactively address challenges, setting the stage for an outstanding user experience.

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