Home SXSW: Web App Autopsy

SXSW: Web App Autopsy

Sean Ammirati of mSpoke is at
SXSW in Austin, TX (USA). He is reporting for Read/WriteWeb throughout the event.

This afternoon I attended an amazing
panel titled
“Web App Autopsy”
. This was one of the panels I was most excited about when I was
getting ready to come to Austin.

The panel examined four live web applications (RegOnline, FeedBurner, Wufoo, and Blinksale) at an amazing level of depth. If you
are involved in any part of designing, building or marketing a web application, then you
really need to go download a copy
of the slides.

While the entire presentation was packed with useful information, the data I found
most interesting was around the conversion of site visitors to customers – both free and
paying customers. The slide below shows a summary of the data the panel presented.

The panel had an interesting conversation explaining the above results. For example,
it is interesting that Wufoo and Feedburner have a lower conversion rate to the free
services than BlinkSale – even though BlinkSale asks more questions during the
registration process.

It is also interesting that RegOnline has a much lower percentage conversion rate to
free accounts than the other services, but then has a higher percentage of accounts that
end up becoming paid members. It was noted that RegOnline has the highest organic result
for the search term ‘Online Registration’ in Google – so this may have something to do
with the poor conversion rate to free accounts. As you’ll see in the slides (you have
downloaded them right?!), RegOnline also has the highest revenue per customer by
an order of magnitude.

When I started my career as a consultant, we did a lot of benchmarking for best and
next practices. At my firm, we had a very good repository of data, on many industries, to
use for benchmarks. However, we never found a great resource for online web applications.
I’ve been out of consulting for years, but this data would have been invaluable. Is
anyone aware of other resources like this to benchmark the performance of your web
application? If so, please leave a comment below.

UPDATE: Also see our coverage of the panel The Figures Behind The Top Web Apps. It looked at 5 web applications and what it took to build and release those products.

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