There are some products out there (Twitter comes to mind) that could not possibly have an easier to use interface coupled with a simpler purpose (to say "what’s happening"). However, simple purpose and simple interface are not all that constitute a product’s Usability.
A company can have the best product around, but if the pages are too sluggish, if the product suffers recurring outages, if the user-product interaction is varied and inconsistent, the product’s overall Usability can, and does, suffer.
Page Load Time.
In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Page Load plays an instrumental part. Page Load, often obfuscated or connected with other perceived causes of a product’s dissatisfaction, ultimately, either positively or negatively, presents an unquestionable influence on a product’s Usability.
The more engaged a user is with a website, the more they are able to interact, the more they can interact. The slower the website, the slower the rate and capability to engage.
Think of the last time you were shopping online when you made a purchase. Where you able to rapidly get to and purchase the product you sought? The answer most likely is yes. Now, think of the last time you visited a shopping website, where the pages were slow to load. Did you make a purchase? Most likely, the resounding takeaway characteristic you can recall today is one of frustration, in navigating, in seeking, that drove you to other websites — that facilitated your decision process through their greater Usability, and responsiveness.
If the user can forget what they were doing, due to sluggish responsiveness for actions taken in a textfield, the Page Load Time is too slow. The slower a page, the more opportunity a user has to be distracted by other websites, tabs, in-office activities, that can easily pull them from the initial web product.
The perceptions of acceptable Page Load Time are always changing. As the Internet and web continually accelerate, so too do people’s expectations regarding what they consider, ‘instant’ or ‘slow.’ At one point, over dial-up, ‘instant’ was many seconds, or even a minute, but today, a second is nearly ‘instant’, and many seconds is mostly unusable.
Assessing the Page Load Time variable requires very little of your time. However, I do recommend that you average at least a few data points over the course of a day or days to make sure you have an accurate sense of the normal product responsiveness.
- If the product typically loads the information promptly (within acceptable expectations) then the Page Load Time variable is assigned the value of 1.
- If the product exhibits the occasional, inconsistent delays, use 0.5.
- And, if the product (like Twitter) has frequent and long delays (including outages) the value for Page Load Time variable is 0.
Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Page Load Time values…
Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Page Load Time of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.
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