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Chapter 1. Response Time: Eight Seconds,... > Response Time and User Satisfaction

Response Time and User Satisfaction

Shneiderman posed the question best: “How long will users wait for the computer to respond before they become annoyed?”[19] Researchers say “it depends.” The delay users will tolerate depends on the perceived complexity of the task, user expertise, and feedback. Variability also plays an important role in delay tolerance. Users can tolerate moderate levels of delay variability, up to plus or minus 50 percent of the mean.

[19] Ben Shneiderman, “Response Time and Display Rate in Human Performance with Computers,” Computing Surveys 16, no. 3 (1984): 265–285. Keep it under 1 to 2 seconds, please.

A number of studies have attempted to quantify computer response times versus user satisfaction. Robert Miller found three threshold levels of human attention:[20]

[20] Robert B. Miller, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions,” in Proceedings of the AFIPS Fall Joint Computer Conference 33 (Montvale, NJ: AFIPS Press, 1968), 267–277.


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