The psychology in website performance

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 05/10/2017

Let's think of user satisfaction when they visit your website. We know that slow site speed will cause users to bounce from your site and statistics show that most visitors won't wait longer than about 3 seconds. Let's be honest though. It's really subjective, isn't it?

How do we perceive satisfaction

David Maister presents us with this formula:

satisfaction = perception - expectations

Let's talk about this. Today, just about every company has a website with access to information on why it's experiencing performance issues and how to fix it. If companies can't make the fixes internally, they just have their outsourced developers do it and it's fixed. With this comes the expectation that most modern websites will run reasonably quickly, right? After all, there aren't many reasons someone would let their site run slowly.

So the visitor lands on your site, expecting it load in about 2 seconds and to their surprise, it's taking much longer. When your visitors perceptions of the site's loading time doesn't reach their expectations, their satisfaction will be drop. With that, you're risking high bounce rates, suffering conversions, etc.

How our brain runs on a slow site

It's not just about people being impatient and having high expectations. We need to think of how a poor site performance affects the seamless thought train these sites are aiming for.

Web Performance Today suggests that on slower sites we have to concentrate 50% harder. Think of how exhausting it would be to navigate through a slow site trying to make a purchase or find some information. 

They also suggest 3 main phases of the recognition process:

  1. You land on a site and photo-receptor cells in your eyes send the visual info to your iconic memory.
  2. Your iconic memory is housed in the occipital lobe of the brain. This storage is brief and gets wiped in 100ms waves. After 100ms you'll lose a lot of that information.
  3. Only small bits of info move on the the short-term memory in the prefrontal lobe. You have about 10 to 15 seconds before you'll lose your train of thought.

This could be one of the reasons we get so frustrated on slow sites. We spend extra energy trying to stay focused but our thought process is derailed at almost every turn.

If you're worried about the performance of your site, click the button below and we'll give you a free report of some of your site's pain points. 

Discover what's slowing your site