Performance Is the Gateway to Experience Design

by Tim Wright

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” That’s a quote from an essay titled Small Is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher which appeared in The Radical Humanist in 1973. Depending on what you Google, sometimes it says that Einstein originated the quote, but regardless of who actually said it, I think that concept still applies today.

Adding more and more design features to a website or application is common practice these days (we’re very excitable people), but we can’t ignore how those additions ultimately affect the user. They may be gorgeous additions, but are they helping or hurting the overall experience? In a short article called The Psychology of Web Performance the author presents some interesting data that alludes to a point I often make about performance being the gateway to experience design.

Previous research has shown that user frustration increases when page load times exceed eight to 10 seconds, without feedback (Bouch, Kuchinsky, and Bhatti 2000, King 2003). Newer evidence shows that broadband users are less tolerant of web page delays than narrowband users. A JupiterResearch survey found that 33% of broadband shoppers are unwilling to wait more than four seconds for a web page to load, whereas 43% of narrowband users will not wait more than six seconds (Akamai 2006).

Check out the full article to read more about performance and UX. I’ve always found this to be an interesting read. I also refer back to it quite a bit. If you have some more up-to-date performance data, send me a tweet and let me know!

About Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a Boston-based user interface and experience design firm focused on human centered digital design