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A new Super Bowl survey shows app performance matters

Finally, there's a Super Bowl survey developers should care about. It turns out we'll be using our mobile and Web apps a lot during the big game, so performance matters.

For developers and testers who've wondered what users really think of their applications and how they use them, a quick look at a new Super Bowl Second Screen Survey from the Harris Poll group -- commissioned by Soasta -- is quite an eye-opener.

For starters, fans won't just be watching the game on a TV. They'll be using other devices to enhance their enjoyment of the game, whether it's ordering food, or placing a bet or two. These so-called second screens are so important to their appreciation of the game that app performance is vital; in fact, almost half the users in the Super Bowl survey said poorly performing apps will annoy them more than their team playing badly.

"We just thought this was a great opportunity to look at what users are doing, and then to benchmark the sites they're using and see how they perform," said Ann Ruckstuhl, chief marketing officer at Soasta, based in Mountain View, Calif. "The Super Bowl is almost like a pseudo-holiday when it comes to application usage, and that's why it's important to look at performance."

Overall, 32% of respondents in the Harris Poll Super Bowl survey plan to use social media websites or apps during the game; 21% will be reaching out to sports sites and 17% will be ordering food online.

"There are companies that are going to see a huge amount of demand before and during the game," Ruckstuhl explained. "They need to offer a seamless user experience during the peak."

To complement the Super Bowl survey, Soasta conducted its own Consumer Performance Index (CPI) survey to see just how well-prepared the "obvious" Super Bowl sites are for the big day. The CPI measures speed and user engagement, and compares it to bounce rates in order to come up with a score between 1 and 100.

The Carolina Panthers have a slight edge when it comes to website performance, Ruckstuhl said, with a score of 81 out of 100, compared with the Denver Broncos' 79. The real loser in their performance survey was Beyoncé -- one of three singers performing during halftime. Her website's CPI was only 64, a number rated as "too slow" by Soasta. The surprise winner is Domino's Pizza, which had a score of 86 -- the highest in the survey. "These guys are really the Amazon of the pizza delivery business," Ruckstuhl said. "They are amazing."

(Wondering how your app might measure up? Enter your URL at the CPI site and you'll find out.)

The goal behind tools like the CPI is to help companies quantify Web or mobile app performance, Ruckstuhl said. The gold standard is a 2.5-second response time; let that number slip to four seconds and the conversion rate goes down 50%. "That's a huge amount of money," she said. "We know it takes a village to work on performance issues -- a village and science."

But science can have its entertaining moments. Ruckstuhl admitted they asked Harris to find out which fans of the four teams that made it to the conference championships were trash-talkers. Much to the surprise of the TechTarget staff based in Newton, Mass., fans of the New England Patriots were seen as the most obnoxious. A full 38% of survey takers apparently don't like Patriots fans. Broncos fans came in a very distant second at 15%. There is always next year.

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