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The need for download speed (01 Mar 1997)
Every Web usability study I have conducted since 1994 has shown the same thing: users beg us to speed up page downloads. In the beginning, my reaction was along the lines of "let's just give them better design and they will be happy to wait for it". I have since become a reformed sinner since even my skull is not thick enough to withstand consistent user pleas year after year.
Research on a wide variety of hypertext systems has shown that users need response times of less than one second when moving from one page to another if they are to navigate freely through an information space. Traditional human factors research into response times also shows the need for response times faster than a second. For example, studies done at IBM in the 1970s and 1980s found that mainframe users were more productive when the time between hitting a function key and getting the requested screen was less than a second.
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