Nearly two-thirds of Web site visits feature some kind of Web application failure, according to a new study released today by the Business Internet Group of San Francisco (BIG-SF). In "A Report on Web Application Integrity," BIG-SF researchers report that commercial Web sites are commonly prone to delivering incorrect data, blank pages and a host of errors that can cause customers to abandon the site. The independent study was commissioned by TeaLeaf Technology, a pioneer in Web application management.

During the first four months of 2002, BIG-SF tested 315 Web sites, emulating the behavior of a new user on each site. In sessions lasting no more than 15 minutes each, researchers discovered an overall Web application failure rate of 63.5 percent. Among the key findings:

  • Six out of 10 sites – primarily in the retail, manufacturing, travel and financial services sectors – suffered technical errors such as blank pages, embedded content errors and failure notices such as "404 file not found" and "500 internal server error."
  • Forty percent also suffered user failures that impacted purchase processes, including the inability to purchase after product comparisons or incorrectly selecting shipping addresses.
  • Another 40 percent of surveyed sites suffered incorrect data errors, such as returning wrong pages or wrong items.
  • Failure rates were consistent across all industry segments.

The BIG-SF report concludes that even as businesses increasingly rely on Web applications for business-critical services, today's dynamic Web applications are growing more complex. As a result, IT managers are struggling to manage them effectively. Meanwhile, the dynamic nature of Web application deployment proportionally increases the risk of Web application failures. As a proposed remedy, BIG-SF researchers recommend IT managers find or develop a solution that "provides visibility into the production state of the Web application to properly test whether or not the Web application is functioning correctly."

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