It’s been more than 20 years since Jakob Nielsen published this research about response time of applications. He identified time limit at 0.1s that gives the feeling of instantaneous response, another one at 1s for seamless user flow and maximum attention span of 10 seconds, after which user’s train of thought derails into wilderness. However, more recent study shows that attention span limit has become even lower and is now at 8 seconds. I often witnessed people getting frustrated about operating system boot times, or forgetting what they wanted to show cause the app took too long to initialize… That’s one reason I avoid putting sliders or videos on cover, even though everybody scrolls I feel like dangling keys in front of a baby who might forget to read below-the-fold content.

So, how much time does our website have to present itself, before it forever loses the user to clickbait titles and kitty videos? When Google tried to put more search results on one page, the loading time increased by 0.5s, user drop rate increased by almost 20 percent, and Amazon discovered that every 0.1s increase in loading time they lost 1 percent of sales. This means our website has milliseconds to unpack it’s little stand and state it’s business. There’s plenty of advice out there on how to achieve this, but how to achieve the opposite, play with user’s proverbial good will and make them feel like they’re on a 28k modem connection.

First thing you could do, create an obese website. You can use a framework and load thousands of lines of code your website will never use. Even is created on WordPress with a custom theme, which is like a Transformers Brawl. Frameworks are quick way to put together something cool, but they’re like candy and they’re making your website obese. Instead of nice, organic, homemade rations, you bring in the cake with extra toppings in the form of add-ons, modules, plug-ins and what-nots. Poor website tries to fight back, throwing tantrum, draining battery, firing processors, but you’re like, nobody has time to cook, just eat the damn cake. Now your website is so chubby, not even Google Fiber can help it, but at least it looks fresh like Ed Hardy’s latest collection /s.

website size

Single Page Applications are popular, they eliminate interstate anxiety and even YouTube does it. That’s great cause you would probably need some framework to create SPA, maybe Angular or Node with bunch of modules. The best thing is, you might have few complex pages that could really benefit from this, but for the simple ones, with mostly text and few images, you’d still load bunch of megabytes, all because you’re trying to avoid page refresh, which everyone is accustomed to.

You can also do simple things like using huge PNGs instead of pixel independent SVGs and CSS, ignoring benefits of responsive design and loading high-resolution JPEG covers on small screens, using Flash and outdated video containers like MPEG4 instead of WEBM, or slapping annoying preloaders for no apparent reason wherever you can. In reality, loaders should indicate to user that system is working on their request, while respecting the first heuristic of usability, visibility of system status. So, when you slap those dancing dots on a blank screen without any indication what’s happening and it takes more than a second to show the actual website content, you’re doing wonders for your bounce rate.

visibility of system status

Increasing website size is a steady trend, and that’s fine. Technology is advancing, connections are becoming faster, SPAs are the future. We eliminated Flash, but made up for it by adding lots of JS. If you have to make’em wait and can’t do anything about it, at least explain why or apologize. And it doesn’t even matter how many lines of code your website has or how large are those cover images, as long as your users are OK with it. Cause you’re making website for users, not for yourself, right?

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