Netizens Wait For No One

Nicholas Carr contemplates the effects of faster and faster page-load times on our collective patience:

Back in 2006, a famous study of online retailing found that a third of online shoppers (those with broadband connections) would abandon a retailing site if its pages took four seconds or longer to load and that nearly two-thirds of shoppers would bolt if the delay reached six seconds. The finding became the basis for the Four Second Rule: People won’t wait more than about four seconds for a web page to load.

In the succeeding six years, the Four Second Rule has been repealed and replaced by the Quarter of a Second Rule. Studies by companies like Google and Microsoft now find that it only takes a delay of 250 milliseconds in page loading for people to start abandoning a site. "Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web," Microsoft search guru Harry Shum observed earlier this year. To put that into perspective, it takes about 400 milliseconds for you to blink an eye.

Relatedly, a new study (pdf) found that a two-second delay in videos causes people to start jumping ship.