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.
Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). Among the various components that define a product’s Usability, as well as Quick-UX‘s, are Accessibility, Consistency, Recognition, Navigation, and Page Load Time.
In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Page Load plays an instrumental role. 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 overall Usability.
Example: Poor Load Time (value = 0.0)
Based on a recent study commissioned by Akamai…
2 seconds = Page Load Time when customers become impatient
Twine is a web product that goes beyond the basic user contributed content model of more familiar sites, like Digg and Mixx, and performs semantic analysis on your contributed content and interests to help identify both related content, as well as additional information of potential interest to each active user.
I have been a user of Twine since being accepted into the early Beta. Beginning with my initial interaction with the product, and despite the evolutions of the user interface, it is apparent that the product’s Usability has been degrading over time — most notably in the department of Page Load Time, earning Twine a Page Load Time variable value of 0.
From the inability to login due to page timeouts…
… to the incredible unresponsive (or barely responsive) interfaces…
10+ seconds later
… Page Load Time is a present and seemingly growing issue of Usability with this product.
One set of interactions, experienced in December 2009, best exemplify the negative impact on Usability of this product experienced due to Poor Load Time. In addition to sluggish interface interactions, for example when expanding the ‘related people,’ that would leave all but the most patient of patient people to conclude the product was merely unusable/broken, was the common and (hopefully) trivial task of accepting a friend request.
From the time starting with clicking the link within the email to accept or check out the friend request, to finally accepting, many minutes of delays and frustration transpired. For every click on the inbox, every time, every action involved in the process, 3-5 seconds was spent waiting, locked in a frozen state, unable to use the product in another way, locked into the current glacial path, of click, wait, click, wait, click, wait…etc.
While the Twine product does have its good moments and days, performing lickety split, the Page Load Time experience is one of (increasingly) frequent and long delays as well as the inability to access and load content.
In addition to a basic focus on reliability and duration of Page Load Time, there are other improvements that a product, such as Twine, would benefit…
- For the times where delay is unavoidable…
- provide better user feedback to better align the user expectations of time remaining — e.g. progress bars instead of endlessly spinning wheels, clear messaging of server timeouts and delays instead of generic ‘unable to login’ messages
- allow for the asynchronous performing of actions within the product, so that while one action processes, other actions, by the user, can be taken and content explored
Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Page Load Time values…
Poor Load Time (value 0) [Twitter, Twine]
Delayed Load Time (value 0.5) [Conversation Pieces]
Prompt Load Time (value 1) [Facebook]
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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The Product Guy
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