The 3 Response Time Limits in Interaction Design

The 3 Response Time Limits in Interaction Design


Users always prefer 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. 0.1 seconds, one second, and 10 seconds The fastest response time limit is 0.1 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 the slider should
react when you’re trying to move it. Let me demonstrate by hitting this glass. [glass clinks] The text ‘ding’ appeared within
0.1 second of the glass being hit. And that makes us feel that me hitting
the glass is what made the text show. On the other hand let’s say the
response time is 10 times slower, so that it now takes a full second
before the text shows. [glass clinks] 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. When as long as a result of the user’s
action happens within that 1 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 1 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 webpages
to download in less than 1 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 10 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. [glass clinks] Actually I cheated because it’s just too
boring to wait the full 10 seconds. But it’s clear that once a 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 wait. 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
sub-second 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 is
done within 10 seconds, users will keep their attention
on 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. These three response time limits,
0.1 seconds, 1 second, and 10 seconds have been the same since Robert Miller
defined them more than fifty years ago. And they will be the same fifty years from now. The reason response time goals stay the same is that they are determined by the human
brain, not by any computer technology

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