User Experience Plays a Critical Role in Web Performance

Fotolia 4357400 XL 150x150 User Experience Plays a Critical Role in Web PerformanceTime and time again, studies indicate that faster websites produce greater revenue. All too often, the approach toward increasing the speed of a site is seen as only a “technical challenge” that requires new hardware, better search algorithms and so forth. Often overlooked is the importance of having an efficient and effective user experience .

At Velocity 2010 Stoyan Stefanov, a performance engineer at Yahoo! and architect of YSlow 2.0 , gave a talk on the Psychology of Performance . In his talk, Stoyan provided many examples of the psychological effects that a user experience will impart on a user’s perception of website performance — both positively and negatively. For example, events are perceived longer when they are painful and shorter when they are enjoyable. Throughout the talk, he provides many tips for ensuring the effect is a positive one. Here are a few of those tips:

* Set expectations of users so they don’t underestimate the time a task will take.
* Show page loading progress as soon as possible, and don’t worry about “flicker-free rendering.”
* Use wording to show progress (e.g., “Saving…”)
* Don’t use the word “wait”, but instead use phrases such as “Saving…” or “Loading…”
* Don’t break user flow with “idiot boxes” asking “Are you sure?”
* Eliminate uncertainty and follow good usability practices.
* Using a white color scheme makes a page feel like it loads faster, but sets the user’s expectations higher.
* Don’t report elapsed time for long-running tasks.

Also, learn how to use Google Analytics to improve your site performance and avoid breaking user flow in the webinar “Make the Most of Your Webmetrics Services” hosted by Holden Robbins, Senior Engineer at Webmetrics.

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