Performance perception

Perception is a very important item of Web Performance Optimization. It is not about the actual time it takes, but about the perception your users have, and if they are willing to wait for it. So it is definitely not about the full page to load, but about the goals your visitors have on that particular page.

Perceived performance is the time it takes on a page in order to start the action the user wants to do. This means that if a user wants to search for a product, the search box and submit buttons are driving the measurements for the performance (instead of the marketing campaign banner that may also be located on the page). Measurements on performance should be focussed on the user experience for performing actual tasks and may go along with user satisfaction research in order to check if the perceived performance improved during a project.

And in case something does take longer than it should, some visual feedback to the user can help them wait without leaving. Not a boring loader, but some more creativity can help the user to stay on your site. Sometimes spending some time using the creative brains to change the perception can give a lot more effective ROI than spending your time on making your server react faster.

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