Application scripts and the user experience: an analyst’s view
Digital tools mean that brands can now reach customers in all situations. This ubiquity requires complete control of performance at all times and in all places. Maltem Insight Performance creates application scripts to assess the user experience. IT engineer Ana Peñalba runs these scripts, which precisely simulate the user experience, and analyzes the obtained results.
Ana, what is an application script?
It is a user scenario. As performance measurement experts, we soon realized that just assessing the network was not enough to measure the user experience. But everything is designed according to this as, after all, the smooth running of a company relies on user satisfaction. The results analysis is correlated with events, allowing our Service Delivery Manager to make recommendations to move towards continuous performance improvement.
How do you simulate human behavior?
We create an application script, a unique scenario, for each web application or software component we are testing. Let us take the example of software. We place units at a company’s different sites and set them up to execute a certain scenario. A customer may need to check the operation of Outlook but only the sending and receiving of e-mail. Another may want only to evaluate calendar performance while another still might want a complete scenario!
We create a business script for each new request and can also test this type of software via Citrix servers. These servers enable us to remotely access applications on a network so software is not installed on each machine but on a platform that users connect to. Our customer therefore wants to assess whether these multiple connections affect the productivity of its teams and if so, when and how.
And if performance is not up to scratch, what do you do?
Our role is to support the customer and alert them so they can enhance performance. Continuously running the same scenario enables us to compare script execution times meaning we can precisely identify sporadic problems. For example, we measure an unusual Word application slow down one morning between 10 and 11am. Where is the problem coming from? Examining the network shows that downloads are disrupting the overall operation of the system due to excessive use of bandwidth. I must stress that we do not manage fixes. This falls to the company’s internal teams.
Can you also assess the user experience on an e-commerce site?
Of course! In e-commerce, we simulate orders on our customers’ sites. When I say simulate, I mean that we act out the purchasing scenario from A to Z but the product is not delivered to us. In this way, it is imaginary. The user scenario, however, is real. It is acted out step by step and if at any time there is an obstacle, we provide the error trace. Our customer can see it all in screenshots or videos. If, for instance, the urgent package dispatch page is not working, a screenshot is taken of the page, making life easier for the IT maintenance teams.
How often do you conduct tests?
We conduct tests continuously. To go back to the Outlook example, we launch a script about every 30 minutes. We test the load time for a certain type of file sent. This means we can launch alerts before users have even noticed.
Before users have noticed?
Yes, because we examine the whole application. Let us go back to Outlook again. When an employee switches on his computer in the morning, he logs in and opens the application, remaining connected until the session is closed. Running an application script which opens and closes an Outlook session 24/7 means that monitoring teams can be alerted as soon as an incident occurs – whether the customer is connected or not – in order to tackle the problem proactively.
How would you define your role in a few words?
We provide a precise analysis of the user experience by using business scripts. We guarantee a positive digital experience throughout the process.