I have worked with internet technologies since long before the WWW gained household adoption. I've watched the internet and its usage evolve from VT100 emulation, WAIS, MUDS, and Gopher to the WWW as we all know it today. In 1994 the first online retailers appeared, and today this retail B2C market is responsible for $225 billion in revenue in the United States alone for 2009.
As with everything that changes or evolves, many themes stay the same. One constant challenge through this evolutionary time line has been developing and managing a better "end user" experience for website visitors. This topic can be broken into two categories. One category addresses the DESIGN of the actual user interface that provides the navigation and features of the end user experience. The other category addresses the PERFORMANCE experience, or in other words, how fast and reliable the end user experience is.
While working for Universal Mind Inc, and previously for Allaire and Macromedia. I have conducted hundreds of performance related engagements on web applications and retail sites ranging from performance and stability tuning to capacity planning and load testing. While both design and performance are critical to the end user experience, and ultimately translate into revenue for eCommerce and iBusiness stakeholders, I'll be focusing on performance management strategies and technology, because not even the coolest or most intuitive rich featured web applications will retain customers or sell products if the site is unreliable or painfully slow. Further more, speed (response time) is directly related to revenue conversion, capture and/or loss. Because your site was performing great today doesn't mean it was performing great yesterday, or last week, and it certainly doesn't mean it will perform well tomorrow, on Black Friday, or on Cyber Monday. Even a 1 second difference in the user experience can be connected to revenue.
You might have technical tools that measure performance points along your network layers, and you might have user analytics to tell you what parts of the site your users visit most, but if you are responsible for a business critical web application and don't have a comprehensive performance management strategy that provides meaningful visibility, trending, and instrumentation into site, page, and service level performance, your visibility into the end user experience, capacity planning, and associated revenue gain or loss is severely limited.
I'll address these concepts here in my blog, topic by topic. Enjoy!