The 3 Response Time Limits in Interaction Design

Users always prefer a snappy user interfaces, but how fast do you have to be? There are three main limits for computer response times, depending on exactly what type of user experience you’re aiming for. Zero point one seconds, one second and 10 seconds. The fastest response time limit is zero point one second, which is required for users to feel there’s no delay and that they themselves are directly making things happen on the screen.

So, for example, that’s how fast a slider should react when you’re trying to move it. Let me demonstrate by hitting this glass.

The texting appeared within zero point one seconds of the glass being hit, and that makes us feel of me hitting the glass is what make the text show.

On the other hand, let’s say the response time is ten times slower. So it now takes a full second before the text shows.

Now, with the one second response time, it no longer feels as if I personally made the text appear by hitting the glass, instead, it feels as if the system is reacting to what I did. But as long as it was of the useless action happens within that one second, it still doesn’t feel as if we have to wait for the computer to kind of get around to dealing with our request. So one second is good enough for the user to freely use the system and not worry about being slowed down by the computer. For example, we need Web pages to download in less than one second for users to navigate the site freely. Unfortunately, the computer can’t always produce results in less than a second. The third response time limit is ten seconds, which is how long people can stay in the flow of the interaction even while they’re waiting.

Let’s try to hit the glass again.

Actually, I cheated because it’s just too boring to wait the full ten seconds, but it’s clear that once the response time is slower than one second, it definitely feels like we can’t use the computer freely. Instead, we’re being bogged down by the weight so users hesitate to issue commands that will take longer to complete. For sure, people don’t like to navigate websites where each new page view takes more than a second. So they leave those slow sites much sooner than they leave sites with subsequent response times. But users can wait up to 10 seconds for completion of major actions, such as booking an airline ticket.

As long as the computer’s done within 10 seconds, users will keep their attention to the task and they won’t forget what they were in the process of doing. They will think it’s unpleasant to have to wait, though. This response time limits zero point one seconds, one second and ten seconds have been the same since Robert Miller defined them more than 50 years ago, and they will be the same 50 years from now. The reason response time goes stay the same is that they are determined by the human brain, not by any computer technology.

Social Media vs Social Features

Is it better to build out social features on your website or app or spend more time creating social media content and engaging users on a separate platform? As young professionals, we generally have more control over social features on our products rather than the content creation or management of our organization social media presence.

Even so, you might have encountered stakeholders that say we need to be on Snapchat or we need to be on Instagram. But is that really the case? Social features include components like news feeds or user profiles and capabilities like following other accounts or liking, commenting and sharing content. Social features can be built in-house or purchased from a third party and integrated into your system. The nice thing about having social features on your product is that you’re fostering a community within your own realm with users that are likely already somewhat loyal or else they wouldn’t have an account on your site. In a sense, you’re not really competing with other organizations like you would be on a social media platform. Additionally, with social features, you’re engaging in building a community where users don’t just talk to your organization, but they talk and communicate with each other.

Though on the other hand, social media platforms have a much larger reach in terms of audience. And you’re not really faced with those same development costs that come with building social features. Some downsides include the time and effort to consistently create content for social media, the resources needed to respond to users on these platforms. And if you’re working with multiple social platforms, the effort required to ensure brand consistency across these channels. Generally speaking, it’s good to have some social media presence. But as a researcher, you’ll need to do some discovery work to try and understand what your customers need and how they want to interact with your organization.

Do users need answers on the fly? If so, maybe a presence on Twitter is well suited, or do users want to see how other users tackle certain problems? Because if that’s the case, maybe a social feature like a forum will be the most worthwhile before creating a social media account for your organization. Just because someone told you we need one, consider what the user need is and use that data to inform your social strategy.

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