Are we too quick to Judge?

Everyone knows the old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover”, but we don’t seem so lenient with blogs or other websites.

In some cases we often a judge a website before we’ve even seen it.

One report claims that if a website does not load within 4 seconds a visitor will abandon your website. That means if a website fails to load in a timely manor we’ve already made a judgment out it, and probably won’t be visiting it again soon, even without seeing its design or reading its content.

Website authors go to great lengths to make sure their websites load quickly as possible, but there are many factors that can affect how quickly a website loads, many out of the control of people actually running a website, so why then are they judged on how quickly their site loads?

Even once a website loads visitor will often make judgment about whether to stay or go, in 4-8 seconds. Are people really that busy? So busy that they can only spare 8 seconds to make up their minds about a website. Reading even one entire page of a website might be enough to judge the overall quality.

I am a big fan of minimalism in websites, but if we’re so concerned about loading speeds might we doing a dis-service to visitors. There is a fine line between keeping a website fast and lean and removing too much from a website, so that once it does load people abandon it.

Are content producers being forced to write superficial content that can be scanned quickly to trap the visitors? If content is king, why not take a few minutes to read some of that content, instead of just the headline (what else can you do in 4-8 seconds?) or basing the decision on the design/layout of the website.

How much time to you spending looking over a website? How does a website loading slowly affect your evaluation of a website?

About Mubashar Iqbal

Mubashar Iqbal is the creator of Most Inspired, a web designer and developer, who has been building websites for over 13 years. You can read his blog at Mubashar Iqbal
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3 Responses to Are we too quick to Judge?

  1. Skyrocket Labs says:

    I’m glad you brought this up. You don’t see this topic floating around as often as it used to. I’m not sure I subscribe to the idea that anything longer than 4 seconds means the user is absolutely going to give up and leave. I obviously agree that the faster a site loads the better and no one wants to see a loading GIF, well at all really, however users will also be at least a little patient for content that they really want or need. My Gmail usually takes about 6-10 seconds to fully load once I login and while that’s not what I’d prefer in a user experience, I’ll wait because I need to use it. Admittedly, I do get impatient with some sites that do take more time to load than should be necessary. The Huffington Post is probably the one that sticks out the most at the moment. I try to avoid longer page loads for my projects by placing my JS scripts at the bottom of the page but this is not always possible. So far, so good. Knock on wood.

  2. Ted Rex says:

    I see your point and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse to more stuff that’s out there. I made this one of my three links on my design blog Design Thought for the Day:

    All the best, Ted

  3. @skyrocket: I think the rule applies less to web apps you use everyday, probably is important if you’re evaluating the service though.

    I worry about having to continually having to make things more efficient, yet everyone wanting a richer interface. At some point the user needs slow down a little.

    Ted: I think you may be right, as more and more blog/websites continue to pop up and more links appear in RSS feeds and the Twitter stream user patients may grow shorter than it already is, and thanks for the link!