Online shopping and payments has become a popular holiday option, making it vital that online merchants to ensure their sites can handle the spike in web traffic and transaction volume for "Black Friday" and the rest of the holiday shopping season.

That requires monitoring, and there are five different types of monitoring that merchants should use to keep their sites available, processing payments and providing a user experience that mitigates abandonment and churn.

Uptime Monitoring. The first step a system administrator should take is monitoring if the site is always available, and that comes from uptime monitoring.

While uptime monitoring should be the first thing a system admin sets up for websites, it’s never too late to start. The important thing to remember when setting up uptime monitoring is that it needs to build a sufficient history, which allows system admins to act fast and recognize patterns. If possible, set up monitoring checks from various locations and have them test every single minute. It’s also good to remember that the ultimate goal for every uptime monitoring performance is a response of less than 500 milliseconds.

Full Page Load Monitoring. Another test system administrators should use is full page load monitoring, which measures the user experience by providing insight on page load speed. There are a number of factors that can have a negative effect on the full page load performance, including too many HTTP requests, uncompressed pages, or graphics without CSS sprites.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the loading time should not exceed three seconds. After three seconds, consumers will skip the page and visit other sites. In addition, slow page loading can also lead to negative impacts on your total search engine optimization score.

Real User Monitoring. During the holidays, websites generate more traffic, and while there isn’t a specific way to measure exactly how much traffic a site will get, there are ways to help you predict the number of visits.

Real User Monitoring or RUM, helps system administrators anticipate how many clicks their site will get during a specific time by using data that is generated by real users. With RUM, the measurements better describe the user experience for a few reasons, with the most important being that real users may use different web browsers that perform differently. Real users will also be using a different network connection than a remote test, which greatly changes the overall measurements.

Real User Monitoring reflects the real user experience, not a test experience like many others, and provides the best analysis for making sure the site is working at its full potential.

Load Test. Once the critical data of user experience and anticipated traffic have been collected, system administrators need to determine how much traffic their site can actually handle. This is done by performing a load test, which simulates an increasing number of concurrent users on a website.

That way a load test helps determine when and where the site slows down or crashes, so that system administrators can remedy the problem areas before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Transaction Monitoring. The final test that system administrators need to use to gauge user experience is transaction monitoring, which measures whether or not payments or other transactions are running as expected. Transaction monitoring records the transactions steps that are being executed on a web page so that potential errors can be detected and straightened out before the traffic increases.

Hopefully after the IT team carries out these tests, everything is running smoothly and efficiently. However, if there are failures, there are ways to fix them. A quick and informative tool to use is “traceroute," which traces the route of packets from the server to a destination host. The second way to fix any problems is to apply a load balancing strategy, which helps distribute the load generated by users on various servers to avoid any performance glitches. The third fix is to enforce a content delivery networks approach, to ensure a swift web performance.

The most important thing to remember after all the testing is that monitoring is critical for all websites, and it isn’t something that should be ignored as it protects investments that have already been made. It is also a key factor in determining crucial data and thereby supplies the foundation for success of the brand in terms of revenue, especially during the busiest and most profitable time of the year.

Mikayel Vardanyan is a general manager at Monitis.