Time and web design

Have you considered, how many different times are added, until the user fulfills his goals? Here is a short review.

Time to resolve the DNS

Domain adresses are each time mapped to physical IP adresses once a user tries to load a website. Usually this time is negligible, but it could take longer, the longer the distance between the server and the client is.

Time to serve a user page request

It depends on the server configuration, where the site is uploaded and the weight of the particular page. Usually measured in milliseconds, but sometimes a couple of seconds are possible, depending on the complexity of the content. This time is flexible, depending on the server and network load.

Browser page rendering time

Though this may seem trivial, it's not. For example, showing images that don't have defined dimensions will be slower compared to showing those having them. Some older browser re-render the page when they encounter dimension problems. Nesting multiple large tables could also slow down the rendering process significantly. A page may have completely loaded its content and styles, but until the client-side behavior hasn't fully loaded, nothing may be shown.

Time for the user to scan the content

The user is much more slower than the PC. That's where significant times are added. Though he scans the page quickly without reading anything, having more information on it will slow him exponentially down. It must support his initial scan with clearly distinguishable site content—like logo in the header, navigation with logically formulated and arranged links, headings in the main content, footer with copyright information.

Time for the user to decide what he wants to do

He may hesitate, which link or button to click on first. Deciding upon priorities slow his down and his subjective feeling of the speed of the page. An indication of where a particular link goes can help him.

Time for the user to interact with a particular content

This can be time to enter registration information, time to point with a mouse on an object and click on it, time to locate the scrollbar and drag it, time to learn how to use input devices to play a browser game etc. This times are also flexible and depend on the user experience. Advanced users accomplish these tasks quicker.

Time to read a long text

When the user has loaded a long text to read, it's important to give him visual cues to speed up reading. These can be short, clear sentences, with bigger line height for smoother eye transitions and line length that is no longer than twice the alphabet for better readability. Using too much space between characters can slow down the reading speed, because scanning the same amount of space will contain less information.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different times which could affect user interaction with a web page. At the end, they are all added. Having a better understanding for them, allows us to take appropriate decisions to minimize them.

bit.ly/Whzksu