Blog Post

DNS Resolution and Its Impact on User Experience

Is DNS performance negatively impacting your user experience? Read more to learn about DNS resolution.

When it comes to protecting their brand, there is little that any successful company would not do. But what if the brand is being damaged just by people being unable to find the store?

If you think of the internet as a virtual network, then DNS lookup and resolution is like the 411 service. Websites are not located at text addresses, but rather IP addresses – that series of numbers and decimals that may not make any sense to you, but actually identifies the actual server that you’re trying to contact. So when you type into your web browser or click on a link to it from a Google search page, the first thing that your browser must do is find out where exactly that is.

Imagine opening a brick and mortar store in a mall, but on the directory at the mall’s entrance, your store is unlisted, forcing anyone who wants to shop there to wander around looking for its location. Your brand and your bottom line would take a pretty significant hit.

This is why DNS resolution is of such paramount importance, as it’s actually the very first interaction that any customer has with your website. If it takes a user an extended amount of time to locate your website, then that person’s brand experience is negatively impacted right from the start.

Unfortunately, the complex nature of DNS makes it difficult and expensive for a website to host it themselves. For one, configuring it is an arduous process filled with variables about the size and scope of your site. Which resource record Time to Live (TTL) value should you choose for your service application? How long can a CNAME chain be and still be effective? How can you be sure that your DNS server capacity is sufficient? What happens when one of the servers goes down? Are there proper and effective redundancies in place?

All of these questions clearly show the need to outsource your DNS service to an established provider that has teams of experts monitoring the health of your DNS 24/7. Yet that poses an entirely new set of problems – how can you be sure that your vendor is providing you with the best possible quality of service that positively impacts your customers’ user experiences, wherever they may be?

Any reputable DNS service provider is monitoring the health of their online systems on a regular basis, but who is monitoring the monitors to make sure that they’re catching and reporting all issues? The only reliable way to ensure that your DNS resolution is up to par is through a third party monitoring platform that is capable of providing in-depth analysis of the health of your DNS. That means measuring it from wherever your users may be located, and doing so frequently enough that you can catch any micro-outages which may otherwise go unnoticed.

This last point is especially important due to the aforementioned expense of setting up a DNS solution. The investment of both time and money that it requires also makes it prohibitive for many smaller companies – and even some larger ones – to put DNS redundancies in place should the primary service fail. If there’s no way to back it up, then you need a strong insurance policy that will help recoup any losses to your brand and your bottom line.

In this case, insurance comes in the form of a strict SLA with your DNS vendor. But once again, in order to ensure that the vendor is complying with the terms of the SLA, a third party is needed to monitor your DNS health and catch any hiccups that they might be missing or declining to report. As the old Russian proverb advises, “Trust, but verify.” You have to trust your DNS provider, as they are too vital to your brand’s long-term health to have a poor relationship. Yet when it comes to your business, you have to cover all bases.

This means asking your DNS provider about how they ensure the health of all of their systems. Request documentation that corroborates their systems. And do your own homework so that you can be sure that everyone is on the same page.

The performance of your online systems is vital to the level of customer experience that’s associated with your brand, and it all starts with your DNS resolution. Give it the attention that it deserves.

To learn more about DNS resolution and how you can use a monitoring solution to preempt the potential performance issues that can occur, check out our upcoming OpsCast webinar partnered with Verisign on January 19 at 2pm EST.

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