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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