Are we asking too much of a user?
Aug 31, 2009
As a Designer, I understand that you want to deliver the best visual experience to visitors in order to achieve your marketing goal. As a Developer I also understand that you have to optimize that experience as well so they actually stick around as long as possible. But lately I have to wonder if internet marketers are leaning too far toward the immersive visual experience. Are we asking for too much of a commitment from visitors?
Lately, I have come across too many sites that really push the users patience when it comes to load times. I found this perfect case study on a recent visit to FWA, a site that showcases the best and brightest of online interactivity and is one of the most sought after online awards. The featured site was for Wrangler Jeans and showcased a video that allowed the user to change the models outfit while the video was playing—very interesting and well put together… if you get to that point. I had to wait at least 3-4 minutes for a 38 Mb file to load before I got to any brand engagement. It begs the question: did they gain more with the experience than they lost by the long wait?
I feel as though I am a biased user in the sense that I visit these sites in order to gain insight on what is new and interesting in the online world. With that goal in mind, I am more likely to sit and wait for something to load for an extended period of time than the average user… I don’t think they’d have the patience.
I was always taught that you had a very short amount of time to capture the user before they navigate away to another site of their choosing; roughly 15 seconds. And as a result I focus a great deal on optimization and load times. Through the loading of external resources and different levels of compression you can achieve the perfect balance of quality and speed. You can provide a deeply immersive and gratifying online experience without the big upfront load time.
Has the online world gotten to the point where we can focus more on the visuals and worry less about load times? It seems the trend is going in that direction. And if these sites are able to be successful and garner the metrics and ROI that they seek then I think its great. For me, this is not a bandwagon that I am likely to hop onto anytime soon.
Trust me when I say that I am not trying to put down other agencies sites. I could be wrong—maybe people are more likely to wait for something from a larger brand. I am honestly curious to hear how others view the trend. What’s your take? I would like to get input from other users. Please let me know your view on the whole situation.