The Problem With Fast Loading Sites (And When You Should Slow It Down)

by Derek Halpern | Follow Him on Twitter Here

When Slow Loading Websites Work

Yes, you read that right.

You’re bombarded by people who tell you that fast loading sites are the answer. They say it’s great for SEO, sales, and usability.

And that’s usually the case… until it isn’t.

You see, there’s a time when slow loading websites CRUSH fast loading websites.

And today, I’ll tell you all about it.

Think People Hate Waiting? Think Again…

“Good things come to those who wait.”

Yes, that’s the Guinness beer slogan.

“Wait, what? Beer? What’s this have to do with websites?”

Nothing… but the strategy has EVERYTHING to do with them.

Look: it takes a long time to pour a full glass of Guinness.

And while people appreciate that now, as Martin Lindstrom points out in Buyology (aff), it wasn’t always like that.

During the early 1990s, people actually hated it, but that’s when genius struck. Guinness rolled out ads that said “good things come to those who wait” and “it takes 119.53 seconds to pour the perfect pint.”

Guess what happened…

Everything changed! The slow pouring process of Guinness beer became cherished. It was no longer an objection, it was now a unique selling proposition.

Why People Happily Wait For Beer, Websites, and More

There’s obviously a fine line here. On one hand people hate waiting, and on the other hand, people love it.

What’s the difference? And how does this apply directly to the web?

That’s where these two smart researchers Ryan W. Buell and Michael I. Norton (both from Harvard Business school) come in.

Ryan and Michael put together an experiment where they asked people to search for a flight on a simulated travel website.

There were two groups of people. One group saw the same-ole boring progress bar before they were delivered their desired flights. The other group saw a detailed progress bar that showed each airline being checked for tickets.

Which service received higher ratings?

The latter one… obviously. But here’s the kicker:

The people who used the second service had to wait almost a full minute for their results.

Yes, 60 seconds, and the service got higher ratings.

To quote Ryan and Michael from the Harvard Business Review, “customers find waiting more tolerable when they can see the work being done on their behalf—and they tend to value the service more.”

That’s The Ticket… People Love To Be Pampered

Makes sense, right? Who doesn’t like the VIP treatment?

People enjoyed the long-pour with Guinness and the long wait with the travel site because it was done for them, not against them.

How does this work in the web world?

Imagine a travel site that wanted to compete with Kayak.

Instead of returning the results instantly, like Kayak, they could show a nice progress bar that said something like “we’ve found the best flights, but we’re checking once more to ensure we didn’t miss the good ones.”

And then, when people saw their search results, instead of seeing a list of the cheapest flight first, there could be a highlighted little box that says “we believe this is the best flight for you.”

And how would they determine “the best flight?”

They could look at transactions from that one user, or a group of similar users. They can create a whole algorithm and compete against Kayak with the slogan “we find you the best flights.”

Think they’d have a shot?

I do.

How Can You Take Advantage The Pamper Treatment?

Remember, the takeaway is this:

People don’t mind waiting when it’s in their own best interest. And not only do they not mind, they actually prefer it (as shown by higher ratings).

Now to demonstrate how this may apply directly two you, I have two examples:

Example 1: The New Product Release

Are you about to release a new product?

People may not have been waiting on it outright, but given this new research, you should describe — in complete detail — the time, love, and care that went into your product’s development.

If it took a year, say that. And then explain why it took year, going into full detail the love and care you gave your product, and why that matters to your customer.

Simply mentioning time implies that your customer was waiting, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the higher satisfaction that comes with the wait.

Just remember, when you set expectations, small little tweaks can lead to massive results (like increasing your prices by 71%).

Example 2: The Explanation of Service

You likely already make your customers wait. Everyone does at some point.

In those instances, do you explain why they must wait, or do you just ask them to wait?

In my experience, companies often quickly ask people to wait, but never give a reason. That creates frustration.

However, if you make that slight change, and tell people why they’re waiting, you’ll potentially make your customers happy for the wait.

(Note, don’t create BS reasons. People can spot that too, and it will backfire).

As a real life example, you’ve heard about my “what are you struggling with question.”

Well, sometimes it takes me a week to respond, but when I do, I simply explain why it took so long, and almost always, people are just happy that I made the time to answer them.

The Bottom Line

It’s true. People are are impatient, and it’s getting worse each day.

But in this fast-paced world, you can continue to try and get faster… or you can simply slow down.

You see, people have come to expect fast, and when that’s their expectation, slow can become your winning difference when executed properly.

One More Thing…

Now here’s what I want you to do…

As you know, I spend a ton of time writing articles like this for you.

If you could help me out by sharing this on Twitter or Facebook, it would be greatly appreciated.

Also, have you had any experiences with longer wait times? What made it “okay” in your book? Leave a comment.

(Note, if this is your first time here, make sure you sign up for the email list. You don’t want to miss out on this content :-D)

If you enjoyed this post, get updates. It's FREE



{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd

Oh man, that hit the spot… much like a Guinness. :) I honestly never thought about it this way, but the idea of describing the time and passion in the development of my product seems like the perfect pitch.

Do you ever find people that think that you’re just making excuses for taking so long?

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yes, that can happen Todd… especially if you’re making up reasons. But if you explain things clearly, it should be okay in my book.

Reply

Bhargav

Derek, I also noticed that if you are making excuses, people tend to feel it. If you give a true reason, they tend to appreciate it more.

Btw, thank you for a good read.

P.S: Going to watch your Mixergy interview.
SocialTrigger readers MUST watch this.
http://mixergy.com/derek-halpern-social-triggers-interview/

Reply

Nathan Creitz

Great thoughts about showing how valuable your readers are! I’ve got a great comment coming but it’s going to take some time for me to write it. ;)

Reply

Derek Halpern

I’ll look forward to it.

Reply

Trisha

Now theres a man who knows how to take what hes learned and put it into action.

Reply

Jean-Luc

yeah great article as usual ^^

Reply

Derek Halpern
Fernando Landim

Derek your approach is totally out of the box and correct … of course.
As a customer I feel like you said!
That’s true!

Reply

Derek Halpern

Go figure right?

I feel the same way. That’s why I hate doctors offices. You sit there, and you wait. And that’s it. Yes, they’re running behind, but they’re always running behind. And when you show up to your appointment late, they treat you like garbage.

Reply

Timothy Haney

But Derek…the doctor has a very important situation on the back 9! Give him a break!

Reply

George Zapo

Derek, thanks again for another new and refreshing perspective on satisfying our readers!

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re welcome George!

Reply

Corey Creed

Absolutely agree. Good things take time and people appreciate it. The trick is how to communicate that genuinely and honestly. Email is the best way, IMHO. There’s nothing like telling your loyal fans that “something awesome is coming”. (If it’s true, of course.)

Reply

Jason Keath

I prefer “Something awesome this way comes”

Reply

Derek Halpern

haha

Reply

Jordan Francis

That’s a great article, Derek.

This is a “I want it now” world, where instant gratification prevails, and damnit … don’t you DARE make me wait … and so on … heh :-)

To actually find a positive differentiator to speed is quite remarkable.

Thanks for the idea.

J

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re welcome Jordan.

It’s funny how it works.

We live in a world where we want things instantly, you’re right. In Buyology, Martin Lindstrom even notes that Americans are even walking faster, heh.

But yes, when you’re looking for a point of difference, speed can be one of them… even if its slower.

Reply

Nick Westergaard

Great insights Derek! I loved not only the summary of the study but also the distilled, actionable ideas for implementation. Well done sir. But now you have me thinking as I gaze across my desk at the Guinness poster — it’s a Lovely Day for a Guinness. Cheers!

Reply

Derek Halpern

Ha ha, Nick.

That’s how I roll here. Studies, stories, and actionable content. :-)

Reply

Troy

Derek,
Great article. Slow works when there’s an explanation, rather a personal pampering to it.

Now the challenge is to find ways to show that personal attention on our own sites. For fitness I could see a product finder. Now if I could figure out WordPress and jQuery in single posts I’d be good. Or should I say “slow”?

-Troy

Reply

Derek Halpern

It’s not necessarily just about product finding…

Its about how people spend their time — if they must wait, give them a reason, and make sure that reason is in their best interest.

Reply

andrew

i think i am one of those caught up and being influence about SEO and faster loading times, and this post of yours poses another question on how to implement this “good things come to those who wait” on my niche sites. Great Post for me to think about.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Glad you enjoyed it Andrew.

The truth is, fast loading times is probably the answer for moset people. However, as shown in this article, there’s potential for slow loading times as a unique selling proposition.

Reply

Mark A. Coudray

This is a great article and an eye opener. Several of our websites require customers to upload their files to us. This is a HUGE opportunity to deliver targeted content to a captive audience that has to wait until their files are completely uploaded before going onto the next step. This has opened my thinking to how we can use this time to better educate our clients AND to create a much better connection with them. Thanks Derek, outstanding as usual.

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re welcome Mark.

Glad you enjoyed it. And yes, that’s a good move. While people upload content, they don’t really want to stare at a progress bar.

Give them anything else to do.

Reply

Ivan Walsh

Hi Derek,

Another angle on this… when working with clients don’t respond TOO fast, especially when getting started.

Why?

If you respond IMMEDIATELY the first time, you create an expectation.

And, if the next time, you’re not as fast… they feel left down.

I’m not suggesting that one should be tardy, rather sensitive to the expectations we’re creating in others.

Hope that makes sense.

Ivan

Reply

Derek Halpern

That makes complete sense, actually.

The more accessible you are, the more they come to expect it. And then when you’re not as accessible, they definitely get disappointed.

Reply

Ian

Even though I hate Domino’s Pizza, I really like the idea of their pizza tracker app on their website—you know, the one that shows the status of your pizza at every step of the pizza creation/delivery process.

Who knows how well it represents what is really going on, but I imagine it gives customer’s the same satisfaction you’ve written about.

Great article! Got me thinking about what we can do on our site.

Reply

Derek Halpern

I’m betting you’re right. I’ve seen that thing, and I dig it. I don’t like their food, but hey, I like to see what’s being worked on, when.

Reply

Ian

absolutely, I think you might even be able to push the limit and actually give the customer such an enjoyable experience that they look forward to waiting.

another example comes to mind: playing snake while waiting for youtube vids to load

thanks for the article, your expertise is well received in our office

Reply

Derek Halpern

Awesome Ian, and thanks for stopping by here. Make sure you’re on the email list!

Reply

Alison Marks

Great article, Derek. It reminds me of something in the book, “Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals” by Heidi Grant Halvorson (great book, BTW!). She talks about the need for people to feel they’re in control when they’re in situations they don’t have control over, like when waiting. For example, in most elevators, the “close door” button doesn’t do anything; it’s just a dummy (this burst my bubble!). But being able to press the button makes people feel like they’re in control, so they don’t mind waiting and end up much more satisfied with the ride.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Wait, what?

The close door button doesn’t work?

Is that the case in most elevators?

I need to write an article about that immediately.

Reply

Alison Marks

LOL – I guess it burst your bubble, too!

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yep.

Reply

Rob Collins

I wonder is this works because people will tolerate a lot, as long as you give them a reason. Robert Caldini explains this in his classic book, “Influence”.

Experiments showed that people could successfully push in to queues to use a photocopier, simply by using the word “because”, even if the words that followed “because” were nonsense. For example, “I need to you use the photocopier because I need to use the photocopier”.

So if you show a detailed progress bar while you wait for flights, this is just a visual way of saying to your customer, “Please wait, because we’re doing cool stuff for you”.

People love explanations, even if they don’t always make sense.

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right. He did talk about the power of the word because, and I believe that this is at play here too. People like reasons for things. It satisfies the brain :-D

Reply

Igor

Derek, great article as usual! It´s true that people are more willing to wait when they know what is going on. And if we can make this time pleasant or interesting too, even better.
For example, in my city they installed a couple of trafic lights with timers on them. So when you wait for the light to go green, you can exactly see how long it is going to take. I can say it is much easier to wait this way, than if I only wait and wonder when something will happen. I guess we people like to have some feeling of control over our circumstances. Best!

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right. I like traffic lights with timers too. But, let me tell you, when you’re waiting for 2 full minutes, and watching the clock, it feels like forever!

Reply

David Pautler

Great point reminds me about the point in the book Influence.

When people asked a favor and added because it increased peoples

acceptance to help

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yep, it’s very similar.

Reply

Destri

Love this. I read an article some time ago that talked about the build up..letting your readers anticipate something, talk to them about working on something your excited about, giving them little details, but not spilling the beans. I spend a lot of time working on content, some that takes weeks of drafting, samples being made, and such. This would be a great way of letting them “wait”. Thanks so much for the article.
I love your straight forward way of taking on a subject, and the takeaway, perfect!
Shall have to practice this today :)

Reply

Derek Halpern

Glad you’re liking the approach Destri. That’s the whole point of ST. Find something interesting, tell a story, show some research, then give the action plan.

Reply

Eric Pinola

It’s also the reason that elevators have mirrors and windows in them. People get so absorbed in checking themselves out or ooooohh aaahhhhing the view or the vertical movements, and they never notice the 16 stops and 9 other people push up against them while they wait to be late to work.

Great post!

Reply

Derek Halpern

That’s an interesting point Eric. I never thought about that before, with elevators and mirrors.

Reply

Keith Bulatao

Yes, I’ve also heard of a building where people were complaining about long wait times for the elevators. The solution – mirrors were installed outside the elevators.

Reply

James

I agree. The secret is to let people know you are working on their project and managing their expectations.

I have a service I sell to realtors, and I tell them it may take up to one business day to get their service setup and customized. But….most don’t notice that.

After reading your article, I realize that I need to setup a drip so they get an email every hour after signing up to inform them of their status.

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right, it is about managing expectations, but there is much more to it than that.

Not only do you manage the expectations, you need to tell them the expectation, and show them why it’s beneficial to them.

Reply

james harner

I would agree with an explanation of why you are making someone wait does buy some leeway and leverage. In certain circumstances that involve high touch sales, like real estate people can be more patient due to the negotiation process that is involved. In most sales industries people have gotten used to the I need that thing now attitude or I’ll go elsewhere to get it mentality. You’ve got to have a product no one else has in order to capitalize on this strategy.

Interesting perspective, but most americans drink fluff beer and have the attention span of a flea.

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right, people are wanting things faster, and are getting more impatient. It’s proven.

However, as shown by this research, it appears that people still do have patience… as long as it benefits them.

Reply

Brad Yzermans

I think you just wrote what many people have instinctively known….but did a great job nailing it on the head. The progress bar on a computer is good….but how do you show progress on a process that takes weeks or months?

We can’t use a web cam to show progress. People would faint watching their file sit on a desk with no one touching it for days or weeks at a time. I’m referring to the time it takes to get a home loan approval.

I’m curious on people’s perception on service when waiting different period of time to accomplish the same task. How do you explain that much more work is required on a home loan that takes 60 days to get approval and another that takes 7 days.

That’s a a lot different than waiting an extra 50 seconds to pour the perfect beer.

I’m curious as to the psychology of someone’s perception when waiting for something they don’t really want, but that is a necessity….like a home loan.

Reply

Uwe Marx

The point may be to give a (any) explanation at all:

Short notice to inform you:

there are still 1763 applications ahead of you.

We work as fast as we can!

Highest number of applications ever processed in 1 day: 24
Lowest number: 17
This weeks average so far: 20

;)

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right on the money there. You can inform people why it takes so long, but you can also say something along the lines of, this is taking long because we’re making sure we can find you the best rate (if its true)

Reply

George Junginger

Great post. I think it really comes down to two things. The whole “what’s in it for me” aspect of human nature is one. The other is that the site is acknowledging the person and “talking” to them. How does it do that? By understanding what the customer is doing there and delivering relevant info to them. To bastardize a much used phrase, it’s bringing psuedo high touch to a high tech experience.

Reply

Derek Halpern

George, you’re right on the money there. It’s always about “what’s in it for me.”

Even when you see altruism, which is allegedly the exact opposite of “whats in it for me,” you’ll see research that suggests that it doesn’t exist.

Reply

Joseph Putnam

I’ve read that setting expectations goes a long way for something like this. If people wait in line at a bank but there’s a sign says, “The average wait time is less than 5 minutes,” people are less likely to be upset. If on the other hand they have to wait in line and have no idea how long it’s going to take, they end up getting ticked off.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yep. Setting expectations does go a LONG way. But in this article specifically, it’s not only about setting expectations. It’s about setting those expectations so people realize why the expectations are as such.

For example, maybe the bank could have a sign that said “the average wait takes 5 minutes because our tellers want to make sure they don’t mess up your account.”

Not saying I’d want that negative wording on a sign in my bank, but you get the idea.

Reply

Joseph Putnam

Ahhh, so you’re taking the whole give a reason route. I like it. It probably works well when done right.

My personal favorites for waiting times are Picnik and Twitter. Picnik says these ridiculous things like “letting out the ghosts.” It’s so ridiculous that it’s hard to get upset. Twitter has the whale that’s being help up by the Twitter birds. With other sites I’d be furious with downtime, but when they explain the reason (notice they give a reason) and then illustrate with a funny visual, I’m cool with it.

Granted, I’m actually cooler with Twitter than I am with Picnik because, even though it’s clever, I can get annoyed at the cute non-reasons. With Twitter, I totally understand there’s a reason, so I cut them some slack.

So yes, there’s definitely ground to the giving people a reason why they’re waiting.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yes, that’s the point of this article. There is ground to it :-)

Reply

Jill

Picnik was what came to mind for me too. I’ve never minded waiting for it to load, and this post articulated why — I’m too busy being charmed to notice that I’m waiting. I would actually say that being made to wait does a better job of making their service memorable than if it were instantly available.

It’s my first time here, and I really enjoyed the post.

Reply

Rana Shahbaz

I totally agree with you on the following point and in my experience most of the time companies failed to address this.

“In my experience, companies often quickly ask people to wait, but never give a reason. That creates frustration.”

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yep.

I hate it.

If you’re going to tell me to wait for 10 minutes, there better be a reason why.

Reply

Kathy Henderson-Sturtz

Now I understand why actually enjoy waiting and watching Picknik.com to load.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Ha ha, someone else said that same thing too.

Reply

Kelly M

I work for an organization that serves as an information clearinghouse for the community. We field many calls to which we may not immediately know the answer, but we always find the answer or refer them to another community organization that does know.

When we ask people to hold, we make sure we explain, “While I don’t know the answer to that question, one of my colleagues might and I’m going to put you on hold to go ask them.” Or, “While I don’t know that off the top of my head, I can gladly research (most of the time a simple Google search does the trick) to find the answer. Would you mind holding.” This is a lot different than saying, “Hmm… I don’t know. Can you hold?” Doesn’t exude much confidence that you’re willing to help or that you’ll actually find the answer.

While this isn’t exactly what you’re referring to, I think customer service professionals could greatly benefit from understanding the concept.

Reply

Derek Halpern

I think this is exactly what I’m referring to. You’re being specific, and you’re not leaving people in a state of “damn i need to wait.” you’re telling them that they’re waiting for their benefit.

Reply

K.C. White

Alright Derek, in that case I’ll cut you some slack for not replying to my response to the “what are you struggling with?” question. ;-)

I wish I could come up with a thought-provoking example of how I’ve had to wait & not mind doing so, but all I can come up with is something similar to what you mentioned – when I’m being pampered.

I would never want my hair stylist or manicurist to do a so-so job only to rush me out the door. I’d rather wait and let them do things right.

Thanks – probably your best article so far. :-)

Reply

Derek Halpern

I may not have received it. I was looking for it just now and couldn’t find it. Could you resend it?

Reply

Chris

Derek

This comment is totally unrelated to this specific article but can I just say mate that I am continually impressed by the amount of knowledge you have in your field and how much you give back to the community.

There are two email lists that I actively promote to my clients and to my friends — yours and Andy Jenkins from Video Boss.

Lastly can you tell me if you intend or do currently provide private coaching ?

Thank you mate keep up the good work.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Chris, really, thanks much for the compliment. I really appreciate it. If you’re interested in private coaching, you may have perfect timing. Shoot me an email by using the contact form on this site, and let’s talk.

Reply

Thomas Frank

This reminds me of places like HuHot and other restaurants with open grills; people don’t mind waiting when they can see their food being cooked right in front of them.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Yep. This is one of the reasons why I love HIbachi places too. I hate waiting for my food, but when I can watch it being done, win.

Reply

Michael | BuildinganOnline.com

Great thinking as always. Gave me an idea of a product. Let you in on it if I can find a programmer :)

Looking forward to your next kick.

Reply

Derek Halpern

Oh, do tell.

Reply

Nathalie Lussier

I love this! It’s also why they put mirrors close to slow elevators. I should know, I live in a building with slow elevators… but I don’t mind because I can use the mirror before I walk out the door. ;)

I really appreciated the airlines example. I’ve spoken to people who work at Expedia before about the algorithm it takes to search all the flights, and it’s really complex. I’m glad they have a way to turn that time into an experience. :)

Reply

Derek Halpern

Someone else mentioned that about mirrors in the elevator. I had no idea until you all brought it up today. Pretty neat.

Reply

Gaurav Kishore

I’m a new reader of your blog Derek. I’m glad to have subscribed to your blog and reading great articles.

This is an excellent article. You have raised a very important and subtle point and which is not just about the example you gave but has wider implications. To keep the customers engaged while loading a website with relevant messages, visualization of the progress with key words helps to make the customer feel in control and gain information while they are waiting – which is not just good practice but also speaks about how the company thinks about their customers and their time.

However I do want to point out that I think that this situation may not apply for all kinds of websites/webapps, specially not to “mobile websites and apps” where the expectations of the customers are lot different then from conventional websites. On mobile the customer expectation is quick, location specific and relevant results. Does that make sense?

Reply

Derek Halpern

You’re right. The situation dictates how it would work, but on apps, you can work this in. For example, let’s say you have a restaurant finder app. You can simply give it a few more seconds of searching and have the app say we’re scouring the every street of this city to find you the best place.

Reply

Joshua Jarvis

Derek, you’ve done it again. That’s absolutely what I’m talking about. Don’t give me the results in 10 seconds – give me feedback and results in 20 – or better results and feedback in 30!

Reply

Bonzaros

In the computer repair business we know people want a fast service.
We answer the phone on the 3rd ring, they get the owners, not a recorded message. Our technicians get there on time, or phone a client with an ETA if they’re stuck in traffic. If they fail to do that and the client phones asking “where is our tech”, we have software showing us where he is in the days schedule so we can give them a decent reply other than, “I don’t know” or ” I’ll track him down and call you back”.
Most people accept we are doing our best for them BUT you will always have someone who expects INSTANT COFFEE NOW….

Reply

Marc

Good stuff Derek.

But there’s a disconnect between the headline and what you end up delivering.

I love guinness, and I love the marketing – heck I even moved to Galway in Ireland ;) And yes, waiting in that case is good.

Similarly when some background software is finding a flight plan.

Thing is, most sites (and probably those of your audience) do not have to crunch through data before bringing the punchline to the reader. And waiting for a bunch of images and tracking scripts to load is something else.

But back to the patience and anticipation part — I assume that’s the only reason sites ever used those lame flash intros. To exude quality, exclusivity and mystique.

But who nowadays will wait around for a page to load, just because the publisher spent $5k on animating their logo back in 2006 and they want to make sure you see it ?!

Reply

Kevin Smith

Great Article! But I will say one thing I signed up for your notifications like a month ago and replied to the email that says “what are you struggling with.” and never got a reply.

Reply

Derek Halpern

I did response. I just forwarded you the response I had given you. :-)

Reply

John Hoff

Hi Derek,

Interesting insight but I do have a little different view.

I’m definitely not saying your idea is wrong (though I think it might be more appropriate to say the problem with some fast loading “pages” rather than sites), but I suppose the way in which I would attack the “winning” the customer over might be from a different angle.

I think your site should only go as slow as it must go. Let’s say you created that site to compete with Kayak and truthfully it only took 5 seconds to query people’s results. I’m not sure I’d add extra time on that, like say another 5 seconds or so just to appear my site is doing extra work.

Rather than that, I think the better strategy to beat Kayak is to invest more of your time and effort in refining your query to consistently produce better results than Kayak.

Take Google and Bing, for example. I realize that every situation is different, but let’s say Bing decided to implement this strategy and every time someone queried something in their search engine they had to wait and watch that status bar tell them, “We’re just double checking, hold on for a few more moments”.

But then they head over to Google and not only is Google faster, but their returned results are better.

Basically what I’m saying is as you know, faster usually wins out online, and the winning ingredient to be added to faster is better. If the product is sound and solves a problem better and faster, the marketing usually takes care of itself (exception PC vs. Mac).

What do you think?

Reply

nursen

thanks…

another theory: fast-loading websites easily tires people’s brains, especially if the website is “informative”. its a bit sophisticating and suffocating… XD if the website is loading fast, so does the mind of the surfer, it goes travelling here and there…

Reply

Danika

As always super insightful and interesting! Oh and I love the examples. Thanks Derek. :-)

Reply

Faliq

Great post. Its like u pace the
Visitor’s experience in a way to let them know u acknowledge their current experience by giving justified reason to wait n importantly worth to wait.

Reply

Remco Boom

Great article Derek. I more or less found this out myself as well.

For one of my customers I created an Excel tool that read an awful lot of data from a database, processed and displayed the results in a nicely formatted worksheet. The whole process took up 2 minutes or so.

Although that in itself was quite an achievement, the client was still wondering ‘why it took so long’ and some even wondered after a minute or so if it was still working.

I solved this in Version 2 by adding status messages while the application was working. Although the users didn’t really understand the displayed messages it did show them that

1) the application was in fact still working
2) it was working for them to fetch data and process it.

The irony is that version 2 took a few seconds longer to run (added a few extras as well) but the users didn’t notice this and more importantly, they didn’t experience the waiting as boring.

Reply

wilson

I think this is why I love studies so much. They actually tell you what works, you don’t have to assume. In most cases we assume things work a certain way, just because it “makes sense”, but really that’s not what your brain is thinking.

I just picked up cialdini’s 50…be persuasive again, now I just have to read it again…gotta love it.

Thanks Derek for taking the time to read and synthesize this information for us. I read the Harvard Business Review too, some of the best content I think.

Reply

Spyros Heniadis

Thanks for this Derek, I hadn’t thought of it that way but it makes perfect sense. The thing I hate most about waiting is having no indication of when the result will arrive, and/or no indication if progress is even being made. Given that data in the way you describe completely changes waiting.

Reply

Gordon

Being that my whole schtick is all about slowing down to appreciate and be fully aware of our surroundings, I can definitely get behind the sentiment of this post.

I agree with a previous commenter that a service that goes too fast is a little different than a site that loads slowly because of huge Flash files and bad coding. That’s not the kind of slowness that anyone wants.

Reply

Ken McArthur

I had a similar experience as a budding programmer automating a time card system. Before we converted to a barcode system and a computer program to tabulate all the needed information to run a payroll system and comply with two unions the process took a solid week to do the calculations by hand.

With the new program it too about 15 minutes, but after running the program a week the management was complaining that it was too slow.

The solution: We added a display that flashed the name of each employee that it was calculating on the screen along with the statistics.

The run took 10 minutes longer and management was happening.

One more thing I’d like to see go slower is the World Business Forum. Seems like it’s over before it starts! See you there in the Blogger’s Hub.

All the best,

Ken

Ken McArthur
KenMcArthur.com

Reply

Henrique Ventura

It’s basically the whole concept behind slow food. We are used to a fast paced environment, that includes taking 10-15 minute breaks to have lunch or dinner.
But every once in a while a new restaurant shows up and tells us “slow down, sit down, enjoy this beautiful room and have a glasse of some fine wine while we prepare you a delicious homecooked-like healthy and sophisticated meal”

So basically, it’s all about improving customer experience. Provide convenience and people will want it fast, or provide comfort and a positive experience and people will want to linger on it.

Reply

Steph Tyll (@StephTyll)

Just blew through a good half dozen of your posts- great advice all over! Thanks and keep it up.

Reply

Nathan Veenhof

When I worked in clothing retail, we’d have busy days where there were always line-ups at the door to the fitting rooms, line-ups at the till and only two people in the area to help the customers at the fitting rooms and at the till and to put away the clothes that were left behind. I often found that if I came back to the till and there were a few people in line for the fitting rooms that weren’t there when I left, they looked angry. I then checked to see that all the doors were closed and knocked on any doors that I knew hadn’t had people in them when I left. If the rooms were all full, I’d look at the customers and say “I’m sorry, the fitting rooms are all full right now, it’ll be just a few minutes before one opens up for you.” Immediately, the customer smiled and was happy to wait. The same is true if I came back to the till and there was a customer waiting to be checked out or helped. They usually looked angry on some level. When I said “I’m sorry for making you wait, I just had to put a few items away,” they usually responded with a smile and were polite for the rest of the transaction. When I saw my co-workers interact with customers in the same situations, they didn’t explain why the customer had to wait, and the customer usually wasn’t polite and smiling if they had to wait.

Truly, waiting can be good, but only if it’s explained. Nicely written.

Reply

Sean

Hi Derek

That reminds me of a John Carlton story where an advertising agency explained in detail the process their brewing client used for making beer. They explained all the high quality steps the beer had to go through. Turns out all other beer companies used the same process however they were first in the customers mind with this high quality time consuming process, They Won!

Cheers

Sean

Reply

Anton Amoto

Wow I’m glad to read another great post here Derek.

The law of scarcity is always being used in new product launches.

The “USP” thing here is like selling without the product. The buyer needs to pay first before the product launches. The more they wait, the more they get excited!

I have more specific examples as to how it applies to service “Great Product with Faster Service”. The more you offer a faster service, the more people need your product. Please hold on for a few more moments as I’m still writing the detailed examples and I’ll post them tomorrow…

Reply

Vanessa Alberts

I think you are so right about slowing down. It’s all about balance!

Reply

Shariff

Hi Derek,

No doubt your articles are great, and I love you writings with examples, However all people in this world are not the same, each one of them have their more taste of doing things. And in this fast moving world I don’t think people will like to wait.

For Eg: when it comes to personal computer, today almost all are using high speed computer. If I am using any of the 3 systems like i3, i5 and i7 I will not like to shift to a older and outdated version. since it is time consuming.

However it does mean I am opposing your point of view, this is will not work for all things it work for few and might not for some.

Only think I would suggest is, it is good to experiment always to find what works and what might not work.

Anyways thanks for sharing your thoughts, I am a fan of your writing, though I am not a good writer.

Thanks
-Imran

Reply

Etosha Lankatilleke

This article is very relieving!!
because I am in the business of making promotional videos
for small businesses..where the editing takes FOREVER….

now i realize i should really explain to them the care and time that is taken in
creating a video…

Good stuff as usual!

Reply

Ken Mburu

This is true but you need to be careful, I hate videos that load automatically.

Reply

Paul

People hate to wait! They cannot stand to wait in line. They want to be the first person at the grocery store, drive ups and countless other lines. The most hated of all is the phone wait.

People want instant solutions right now! That is why it is important to have a fast loading site.

Your solutions are viable but not always practical.

Reply

Richard

Cool Stuff……The comments are the catalyst to your concepts. Thanks

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: