How long are you willing to look at an egg timer, beach ball, or progress bar? According to Jakob Nielson, only 10 seconds. According to Google’s research though, a page load difference of just 250 milliseconds is enough to be a competitive advantage.
I’m not aware of any research from the time, but I’d bet 15 years ago, the overall average was much longer. Computers were new and we didn’t have much in the way of expectations yet. Quickly though, the desire to eliminate waiting and speed tasks started to drive the PC revolution. If you had the money, you could upgrade each year and notice dramatic performance improvements.
For mainstream users, we’ve largely reached a point of minimal returns for each upgrade cycle. Make no mistake though, everyone still cares about speed. Now though, the idea of system response encompasses far more than the components in your PC case. Today, you have to factor in, among other things, the latency and speed of your data connection, the server response time, and the speed it takes a given web browser to draw the page.
To deliver a great user experience, you have to take speed into the equation. Outside of work, most people don’t have the network overhead of a VPN or other heavy network security most of the time. Your recent hires that just graduated from college most likely had a great fiber connection to or close to a backbone. But expectations of speed don’t change when people enter the office or log in remotely. In the quest to deliver, you’re starting at a disadvantage.
Remember: User experience, and ultimately employee or customer satisfaction, is about far more than a pretty interface with a trendy Pantone color palette. Expectations are rising every day. Are you enterprise applications delighting users, keeping pace, or falling behind? After all, nothing in the digital economy is ever static.