Synthetic monitoring

A step-by-step guide to help you set up your Synthetic monitoring and onboard your team members who are new to SpeedCurve

Step 1 β€’ Add URLs, regions, browsers and custom settings

This short (5:40) video walks you through the steps to add more URLs, regions, and browsers, as well as create custom settings to emulate different connection types and speeds.


Learn more:

Case study: How used SpeedCurve to make its pages 50% faster

Step 2 β€’ Manage your monthly checks

Your SpeedCurve Synthetic plan is billed based on the number of performance checks you make a month. (See our pricing for more information.)

No matter what type of plan you have, it's in your best interest to manage your monthly checks to get the best value out of SpeedCurve.


Learn more:

What is a check and how many do I need?

Step 3 β€’ Add more users and teams

You can add unlimited users and teams to your SpeedCurve account. This video shows you how.


Learn more:

Single Sign On

Step 4 β€’ Benchmark yourself against your competitors

Knowing which of your competitors are faster than you is a fantastic way to get performance buy-in throughout your organization. Here's how to use SpeedCurve to compare your performance with any other site.

(Bonus: It's super easy to set up! Extra bonus: You can also generate great visualizations – like side-by-side videos and filmstrips – to share with your team.)


Generate a competitive benchmarking video to see a side-by-side comparison of site performance.


Learn more:

Case study: How The Guardian used SpeedCurve to help make its site four times faster [VIDEO]

Step 5 β€’ Understand synthetic metrics

SpeedCurve tracks dozens of metrics for you. But how do you know which ones to focus on? There's no "one size fits all" metric. Instead, there are different metrics for different purposes. These include (but aren't limited to):

  • How responsive are my servers? Backend Time
  • How fast does this page seem to be to users? Start Render, Hero Times, Speed Index
  • How quickly does the page settle down and become mostly interactive? CPU Time, Long Tasks, First CPU Idle


Learn more:

Case study: How I learned to stop worrying and love UX metrics [VIDEO]

Step 6 β€’ Create custom charts

Your Favorites dashboards make it super easy for you to cherry pick the metrics and data that are most meaningful to your business – and then share that data with your team.

You can quickly and easily build your own charts which:

  • Group charts into different dashboards for different users. For example: You can add an "Exec Summary" dashboard that includes high-level charts for those monthly management meetings. Or you can create separate project-related dashboards to help your dev team focus on priorities.

  • Combine synthetic tests and RUM (real user monitoring) in one chart.

  • Choose average, median, or 95th percentile.

  • Create charts that have multiple metrics.

  • Select multiple values for a filter, eg, browser = Chrome or Firefox, country = UK or US.

  • Compare A/B tests in a single chart.


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Step 7 β€’ Set performance budgets and alerts

Now that you understand how to create custom charts, the next step is to set performance budgets on some (or all) of them.

Performance budgets are a vital tool in your web performance toolbox. They take the hassle out of monitoring your page performance by notifying you (by email, Slack, HipChat and more) whenever your metrics cross a certain threshold.

The great news: creating performance budgets is quick and easy. Here's how to get started.


Set performance budgets to notify you when thresholds are crossed for the metrics you care about.


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Step 8 β€’ Add synthetic test scripts

Synthetic scripting lets you expand your SpeedCurve testing by allowing you to do things like add repeat views and test private dev and staging sites.


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Step 9 β€’ Create custom metrics

It’s great to have standard metrics – such as backend and frontend time – that work across all web pages. But these metrics don’t tell you about important things you care about, such as how quickly your ads and third parties are rendering, or how fast your site appears to users.Β 

This is where custom metrics come in. SpeedCurve lets you implement custom timers to track the performance of key page assets – such as hero images (for tracking user-perceived performance) or third-party scripts (for tracking ad performance). Using JavaScript, you can mark the important times during page loading and those custom metrics are displayed in your SpeedCurve dashboard.


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Step 10 β€’ Integrate SpeedCurve into your CI/CD process

SpeedCurve can be integrated into your continuous integration or continuous deployment environment (via any CI tool like Jenkins, Travis, or CircleCI) as a way to test for and react to performance issues.

In a typical CI/CD pipeline, SpeedCurve fits in either the integration testing stage, the post-deploy stage, or both.

  1. Compile code, run unit tests.

  2. Deploy the build to the testing environment.

  3. Run integration tests, trigger SpeedCurve tests on the testing environment.

  4. Promote the build to the staging/production environment.

  5. Trigger SpeedCurve tests on the staging/production environment.

Step 11 β€’ Drill down into your test results

Being able to monitor and measure the performance of your pages is crucial. The next step is to quickly find out what’s hurting your pages so you can stop the pain.

You want to know:

  • Which performance rules is my page breaking?

  • How do I prioritize my optimization efforts?

  • How can I communicate this quickly and clearly to my team?

Every time you run a synthetic test, your Lighthouse scores appear at the top of your test results page by default. Lighthouse is an open-source automated tool for auditing the quality of web pages. You can perform Lighthouse tests on any web page, and get a series of scores for performance, accessibility, SEO, and more.

Here's how to see your Lighthouse audits for each test run:

1. Go to your Site dashboard.

2. Select the page you're interested in from the menu at the top of the page.

3. Click on whatever point on the test timeline you're interested in. You'll see a pop-up with a 'View Test' link, like this:


Click on any synthetic time series to view individual test results.

4. Click the 'View Test' link to go to the test results page. Your Lighthouse scores are at the top of the page:Β 

5. Click on each Lighthouse category to see your list of audits and recommendations, like this:

6. If you want to see your full Lighthouse report, click on the text link at the bottom of the list of audits.


We're always working to make your SpeedCurve learning curve as short and sweet as possible. If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know! Send your comments to [email protected].