2 Second Delays

There is a time vampire hiding in your browser. It looks like this:

Lately, this one has been annoying me. Instead of relying on gut feeling, I ran a little experiment.

I navigated through various well-known websites and web applications — stopwatch at hand. While I navigated, I recorded the time I saw the wait indicator spinning on the browser window.

I was shocked. I really thought I made a mistake! I re-ran the experiment a few times, and the results were always consistent. Hmm…

Below are the graphical results of what I recorded in my last sampling. In summary: I navigated for a total of 42 seconds; I waited 16.99 seconds. That’s 40% of the time!

Using a timeline, the wait times look like this:

The eight gray bars represent the times I was watching the browser wait-cursor spin. The nine green bars represent the time I was ‘thinking’ and deciding where to navigate next.

Now, I am talking here about navigating wait time; I was not performing any updates or doing any work. This is the wait time as I diligently tried to move from point A to point B in the web application.

But this does not make it less important. If while driving from your home to your office you find yourself stopped in traffic 40% of your commute time, I think you will find it frustrating.

We have become too accustomed to these micro-waits when we work with web apps. Just like we got used to expect TV commercials.

My hypothesis is that those applications that you deem as smooth and fluid today have none or a minimal number of these micro-delays; and that future applications that pay attention and remove these time-blinks will stand out.

It will be the same difference between silk and burlap: both are clothes, but which one would you rather feel against your skin?