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November 10, 2006

The Need for Speed in Web Applications

Marissa Mayer explained yesterday at Web 2.0 Summit that speed is one of the key issues for a web application. She said that the major reason why Google shows 10 search results by default is that the page loads faster (on average, in 0.4 seconds).

When launched, Google Maps was pretty slow, but a speed improvement brought a lot more traffic. "When the Google Maps home page was put on a diet, shrunk from 100K to about 70K to 80K, traffic was up 10 percent the first week and in the following three weeks, 25 percent more."

Also the upload process in Google Video took a day or two, so people couldn't see their video online instantly. Marissa says that's one reason why YouTube had more success than Google Video.

Instant gratification plays a big role in a great user experience. Just imagine a search result page loading in 20 seconds. How often would you use that search engine, even if the results are great?


  1. Yes, speed is a major point you need to consider for web-applications that people expect instant (or almost) operations from.

    Another i think that is also very important is simplicity.
    Complicated interfaces usually turn people off from using applications in all areas (unless they are forced to use it, but you aren't forced to use websites...mostly)
    And of course, as with everything on computers, the less clicks required for common tasks, the better!

    So far, theres only a small number of sites that follow these trends.
    The number has grown, but its very slow sadly =( (deserves a sad face)

  2. And even when you can load a page that faster, a small bar loading makes miracles for a user experience. I also agree with kris: a good UI is also basic.

  3. Unforunately, while all of Google's web apps load near instantly. Gmail still has a loading screen. :/ Hopefully, Gmail gets an overhaul soon. It feels like they keep retrofitting new features.

  4. Couldn't agree more with the need for speed.

    Bloglines really screwed up with their latest update, IMO. Used to be super-fast, but now they went for fancy design and it is very slow for me. Huge mistake.