My last post, Leisurely or Lickety-Split?, posed a very subjective question: is my blog slow to load? I received a very interesting array of responses ranging from: Your site has been very slow to load and actually several times has made internet explorer shut down…” (sorry!), to “no, not at all.” However I must say that the one commonality was that you were all very kind in your comments, even when I might be the cause of crashing browsers. Thank you!
Well I do realize that much affects internet speed and crashing browsers and probably every person that commented today, DID have a different experience of my load time. Some are using dial-up, Blogger could be goofy, perhaps my blog works better in some browsers than others…who knows.
But all this got me thinking about what “slow” really means. Anyone who has travelled abroad, especially to countries with cultures very different from one’s own, has to realize that what is considered “slow” is extremely culturally dependent.
I remember reading somewhere a long, long time ago when the Former Soviet Union was still THE Soviet Union, that people in Russia would happily wait in line for an extremely long period of time. In fact if there was a line outside a store, people joined it automatically without knowing what it was for, because if there was that long a line, there must be something good inside.
Well I don’t know how true that last “fact” is, but I imagine that the Soviets, like everyone else in the world, had a certain expectation of how long their wait in line should be, and it was almost certainly much longer than the wait tolerated by a person in the US.
I think I read somewhere that the average time that an American will happily wait in line is 7 minutes, but I couldn’t find that statistic anywhere online, so don’t quote me on it OK? And of course if it is the eve of “Black Friday” at Walmart, we all know that some Americans will camp out all night in the cold just to hold a place in line.
Also, not surprisingly, people will happily wait longer when distracted either by a menu at a restaurant, or a video at Disney…but that annoying “elevator music” that plays when you are on hold on the phone? That irritates more than it distracts, since it is totally unrelated to the service that we expect to receive (as opposed to a menu). I could have told you that!
I don’t know why, but I find this fascinating! Maybe it is because I listened to so many grumbling Americans as I stood in my interminable airport security line in Mexico.
I had hoped to find some stats online about average tolerable wait times based on country/culture, but unfortunately I was unable to. I’ll keep looking though, since I am sure a study is out there somewhere. (Does anyone know of one?)
My personal theory is that Americans are probably among the most impatient people in the world. We want what we want, and we want it now. I also think that if somebody had mapped the amount of time that people would willingly wait for a service over many many years, we would see our willingness to wait decreasing over time.
Perhaps that is where all this rambling ties in with Unplug Your Kids. I think that with the excess of high speed, high stim stuff that we have today, we don’t know how to wait anymore. There are TV’s in restaurants for goodness sakes! Oh well, that is a post for another day. Time to get back on track:
I did find a study that claims that the “tolerable waiting time” for a webpage to load before people give up and go elsewhere is 2 seconds! (A Study on Tolerable Waiting Time: How Long are Web Users Willing to Wait? by Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah (2004), Behavior & Information Technology, forthcoming)
A tool that I have been using to check download speed indicates that Unplug Your Kids loads in 0.96 seconds, but I have never understood this site. My result sounds reassuring, but how can it be so definitive when there are so many variables?
In the comments to Leisurely or Lickety-Split?, Christine suggested I try Web Page Analyzer. This one breaks down the results by connection speed, much more helpful. UPYK ranged from 141.44 seconds at 56K to 12.33 seconds with a T1 connection. What!! Why are any of you even here? Perhaps I should be flattered that you are willing to wait so long to read my precious pearls of wisdom. LOL! Seriously though, I need an overhaul.
For anyone else who wants to analyze the speed of their blog, geeky me liked Web Page Analyzer (free by the way) because it gives lots of information about download time per object type, and even an analysis and recommendations for improvement at the bottom of the page. Really helpful! Thanks Christine!
I hope I haven’t bored everyone to death with my nerdy musings about wait times and geeky website speed test sites. It is ironic that I, self-proclaimed “Mom Unplugged” who strives for a less technology-laden life, am obsessing about how to shave a second or two of my blog’s load time. The fact that I even have a blog at all is an irony that has not escaped me! But rest assured that this is merely a passing obsession for me. UPYK will not be turning into a tech blog anytime soon.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, a queue for goods in the People’s Republic of Poland.