Think customers hate waiting for slow pages to load? Think again!

How many times have you sat in front of a loading screen, while it slowly came to life, wondering how long this process will take and how many clients you might be loosing along the way?  Clients hate it!  And as a professional website design company, that is the last think we want our sites to do.

But after a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, maybe that wait is not as bad as we think.  Customers find waiting more tolerable when they can see the work that is being done for them.  This also holds true if the progress that we see is only the “appearance of progress”, also known as “labor illusion”

One of the studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review compared user satisfaction after purchasing tickets from 2 different travel websites.  Both offered the same tickets, and the same prices.  The first website was lightning fast, displaying results immediately and efficiently.  The second website, showed a little animation while the websites “searched” different airlines for the “best rates”.  The second website took anywhere form 20 to 40 seconds to display the exact same results as website 1.  The majority of users preferred the transparency of the slower website!

The second question was, can labor illusion trump poor results?  To find out another study was conducted with the creation of a fictitious dating website.  Some users were presented with immediate results, and others were presented with a slower, transparent search.  And for both groups some results were very appealing (Very attractive “soul mates”, and some were very disappointing. (Less appealing prospects).  Users that had the long search time with appealing results, gave the site very high reviews.  Users that had the long wait with the disappointing results, gave the website very bad results.  This illustrated that labor illusion only has positive feedback when the outcome are great results.

Several examples of labor illusion are successfully being used on our day to day life.  Apple’s automated response hotline, plays a typing sound between prompts to give users the illusion that the virtual operator is “keeing” in your request.  ATM’s will show the animation of bills being counted, or a check being scanned when they are processing your deposit.    Starbucks required Baristas to steam the milk individually for each customer.  This slows down the process but allows customers to see what is going on.

Websites can definitely profit from transparency as part of the loading process.  Just something to think about!

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