Web App Failures Dont Take Holidays

Opinion: Online shopping season demands maximum awareness of what's not working.

Take rising gas prices, add ubiquitous broadband connections, garnish lightly with fear of crowded malls that might harbor avian flu or terrorist bombers--and you have the makings of a vigorous online shopping season that begins, oh, right about now.

This is therefore an excellent time to make sure that your instrumentation of site performance and function is ready to get you through the coming crunch.

Shoppers no longer consider online access to be a mere amenity, let alone an intriguing novelty. They want a reliable, convenient, reliable, understandable, reliable, efficient online experience. Did I mention that they want online shopping sites to be reliable as well?

Study results released today by TeaLeaf Technology Inc. show that customers who encounter problems in completing an online transaction are likely, one out of three, to go elsewhere rather than try again -- and almost nine out of 10 report encountering such problems. And you cant afford to disappoint this years online shoppers. JupiterResearch projects online holiday sales rising 18 percent from last year to an estimated $26 billion, while established online shoppers may increase their activity by more like 25 percent.

Wouldnt it be a shame if your site were one of the ones that savvy online shoppers told their friends to avoid as a waste of time?

This is the time of year when an online site simply has to get it right. WebTrends finds Internet-only retailers heavily represented among sales outlets that get 25 to 50 percent of their annual revenues during the holiday period. Miss this season, and youve left far too much money on the table.

Its vital, therefore, not to confuse inward-looking measures such as server uptime with outward-facing measures of customer ease in completing transactions. As Ive previously observed, statistical measures can be misleading and incomplete: Network managers and site administrators commonly learn about problems not from automated tools, but from disgruntled users.

Not surprisingly, study sponsor TeaLeaf offers end-to-end process measurement and reporting technology in its RealiTea lineup; also worth your attention is this past years eWEEK Excellence winner in IT Quality Assurance, Mercury Business Process Testing from the momentarily scandalized Mercury Interactive.

Tell me what you wish you knew to measure at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com


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