The UX of Speed

By | August 28, 2012

Performance, Speed, is probably the most important feature a system can have.  It creates the impression of quality, responsiveness, friendliness and effectiveness.  Whereas slow performance will do the exact opposite.  It will make people feel that the system is mean, low quality and ineffective.

Case in point: DirecTV
I have had DirecTV for over 15 years.  Mainly, I use it rather than cable because I can watch the Jets games in California. (NFL Sunday Ticket)  Lately, in the past year, I have noticed the performance has degraded substantially.  I click “guide” and it takes 5-10 seconds for the guide to appear.  I click UP and it takes another 5 seconds to go up.  I want to whiz through the channels to decide what I want, not watch a frozen screen.

Every click on the remote is agony.  I can’t stand it.  It is ridiculous.  It should be instantaneous.  What is the point of having this gigantic set-top box if it can’t hold one damn guide in memory?  Why is it so slow?

I actually decided to call support and they told me to send it back and they would give me a new receiver.  Sounds great in theory, except the new one is acting funky too.  Not as bad, but still pretty awful.  What can I do?  I hate DirecTV because of this.  Combine that issue with the lack of fast internet access like cable has and all of the sudden, I am a customer in jeopardy.

Speed solves many problems and slowness causes many others.  It happens because priorities do not put speed above other concerns.  DirecTV actually changed their UI recently to add in fancy features.  Did these features slow things down?  If yes, then they fucked up in a serious way.

Features are great, but speed is greater.  I’d rather have the old UI be ugly than the new UI be slow.  I wish more engineering organizations thought this way.  Do you work on features or on speed?  I think too many companies out there answer the wrong way.

4 thoughts on “The UX of Speed

  1. Kaj Kandler

    Glen,
    what took you so long to come to that insight?

    I hate all the OS animations that slow down the UI (unless you buy new hardware). Mac OS X started it, then Windows, then iOS, then Android, etc. The software world is full of “features” that do not work (or don’t make the user happy), because the performance sucks. And it even sucks more if the rest of the system performance is impacted by this additional gimmick.

    Reply
  2. Ben Nadel

    One of my biggest pet peeves is drop down menus that animate. Where did this fad come from? Before jQuery and moo tools (etc), I never once saw a drop down menu do anything but show up instantly upon demand.

    Reply
  3. KB

    I do agree with you to some extent. However, just try Comcast for a week and you will appreciate your DIRECTV…

    Reply

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