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Joshua Porter looks at why web apps fail and give seven really good reasons.  It is well worth a read at:
Here are the major points as well as how to deal with them:
  1. Focus on social instead of personal - Focus on user needs
  2. Trying to solve too many problems with one application - Deal with scope
  3. They’re about making someone other than the user happy - Identify customers
  4. They sell it the wrong way - Focus on what the product can do instead of technology
  5. Not in it for the long haul - Adapt to user base
  6. They show too much of what’s going on, and get gamed - Don't show all the inner workings
  7. They don’t have an underlying business strategy of improving people’s lives - Focus on business and strategic value
I have personally seen a few web apps fail during my career and many of these were due to unmanaged expectations.  Many of the times, there was no clear User Experience role which helped define what the customer ultimately needed. 
I have also seen that customers wanted a lot of the time something that the web just couldn't deliver in terms of rich user interfaces with very interactive controls.  Ultimately, it led to a large lesson learned that the web just isn't for everything and we started looking at Smart Client applications.
Also, point #2 leads me to another reason why web apps fail is that the requirements aren't managed properly and the scope manages to creep out of control and thus the deadlines aren't met.  Unfortunately this happens too many times with smaller teams that do not have the project structure, or just the lack of willingness to use the tradeoff triangle.
Overall, it's a very good list and worth reading.
Posted on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:33 PM Enterprise Architecture | Back to top

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