February 7, 2003, 12:00 AM

The invisible site failures that doom a transaction

A full 80% of shopping web sites contain content errors that prevented customers from finding or buying products, says a study out this week. The errors were all in the area of failing to deliver correct content when a customer makes a request.


A full 80% of shopping web sites contain content errors that prevented customers from finding or buying products, says a study out this week from Business Internet Group of San Francisco, sponsored by TeaLeaf Technology Inc. The Business Internet Group conducted the study during one of the most crucial shopping times of the year--Thanksgiving week.

The group tracked actual transactions on sites in the Keynote Consumer 40 Internet Performance Index, 10 each in shopping, portal/search, travel and brokerage. It experienced eight errors such as failure to deliver a requested page or delivering the wrong page in visiting 10 shopping sites.

Problems fell into three categories, the group reported: Technical errors, in which the site delivered blank pages or reported that pages could not be found--the infamous “404 file not found” message; incorrect data errors, in which the wrong page or the wrong item was delivered; and use failure errors, which prevent a customer from completing a transaction.

The Business Internet Group says the study highlights the fact that measuring success by merely measuring site speed is not enough. “If web load times were all that users cared about, then current performance metrics would suffice,” said Diane Smith, BIG-SF analyst. “The simple fact is that the success or failure of a web transaction is based on far more than speed. On one travel site a search for ‘Antigua’ delivered travel information for ‘Guatemala City.’ That web site lost business and didn’t even know it.”

Among the retail site errors that the group found were:
--Selected Lenny Kravitz from a drop-down box and the site delivered the home page, not Kravitz recordings
--Clicked on Storage containers in a baby section, and received a page with can openers
--Clicked on See all 30 matches for plants and bulbs and received the message: “There are no results that match your query.”

“None of the failures were the result of performance or availability issues and therefore, not visible to IT operations relying on such solutions,” the Business Internet Group concluded in its “The Black Friday Report on Web Application Integrity.”

Sponsor TeaLeaf offers technology to manage the integrity of web site applications.


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