A couple of months ago, Ryan wrote an article about how a decent percentage of our time on Wufoo was spent working on areas that our customers don’t necessarily see like creating documentation, rewriting code, and handling inactive accounts. After spending the last week or so on some similar tasks that weren’t previously mentioned, I thought I’d add a couple more items to the list.

Configuring Metric Tools

We’ve been tracking the basic metrics: sign up ratios, revenues, active customers, etc., but we’ve also started investing a little more time in understanding how people navigate through our site. Particularly, we’ve been playing around with Google’s Analytics, Adwords, and Website Optimizer applications. They’re all decent tools once you get set up, but customizing them to your site and your specific needs required a good amount of fine tuning and experimentation.

Dealing with Bad Users

I’d say that 99.9% of the people who sign up for Wufoo are decent human beings. Unfortunately, that still leaves a very small fraction that’s just up to no good. Every application is probably going to have some trouble with scam artists and fraudsters, and while we don’t have to commit the resources that a company like PayPal has to, dealing with these people can be a tedious and time consuming affair. In order to help us fight the good fight efficiently, we’ve written some code to have our system alert us when something appears to be suspicious or out of the ordinary. For instance, if you save a form that contains all of the following words: “unlimited porn”, “password” and “credit card”, we’re going to look into it. While we try to automate as much as this as possible, it still requires a little bit of monitoring each day.

Tracking User Behavior

Monitoring for suspicious activity also resulted in a providing us some information we didn’t realize about our users and how they used our application. For example when an alert is sent about a suspicious-looking form field, we realized that the alert is often sent many times. What that taught us was that users tended to save their work incrementally when they’re building a form. Since we automatically redirect away from the form builder when they click “save,” we realized this might not be such a good idea considering how annoying it must be for frequent savers. Since nothing is better than actual usage data when you’re learning about how people are using your application, we’re going to work on implementing some additional methods and hooks to help us better understand how our customers use our application.

Billing Sundries

Writing our initial billing system took a solid block of time by itself, and it also has required some incremental updates over the last year. I’ll write more about this at a later date, but besides just charging a card, you have to worry about things such as what to do when a card is invalid and putting checks in place to prevent credit card fraud.

HTML Form Builder
Chris Campbell

The Underbelly of a Web App Part 2 by Chris Campbell

This entry was posted 3 years ago and was filed under Notebooks.
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  1. CHILENOL. · 3 years ago

    Everyone needs a hug.

  2. Bryan · 3 years ago

    I thought this was about web apps

  3. Byron Rode · 3 years ago

    @Bryan: If you read the article, and the one prior to this, you will notice that it is an informative article related to the actual amount of unseen work that goes in to the design of an application. Well thats my take on it anyways.

    Always bear in mind that there is far more to most things than what the eye can see.

    @Ryan, Chris and Kevin: Thanks for the information in this and the first installment’s article. Very interesting and informative read. This is generally, and I mean this from a non-programmers perspective, unseen and hardly appreciated. Now I don’t use Wufoo myself, but I must give you all a big congratulations you to you guys for putting in so much effort, and great thanks for giving me and your readers a more descriptive insight into the amount of work you put into an application like Wufoo.

    It is especially helpful when the information can be helpful to others who are in the process of, or thinking of building a large scale web app.

    Keep it up, and I look forward to reading more on this article