Acceptable waiting time for users in time sensitive actions

  • Is there an acceptable waiting time for users when they are on banking or finance related websites after they perform an action? I expect that for important tasks users are prepared to be more patient, but if it is a bidding or auction related website then they would want to know that the transaction is immediate.

    Probably the ‘gold’ standard when it comes to general website performance in relation to user behaviour: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/powers-of-10-time-scales-in-ux/

    • 0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
    • 1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
    • 10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user's attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.

    The closet I can find to an industry standard benchmark is the Compuware APM Benchmarks http://www.compuware.com/en_us/application-performance-management/Benchmarks/view-benchmarks.html

    The closest I can find to any actual figures are from the Best of the Web 2013 awards handed out by Compuware, which specializes in website performance benchmarking. The average response time for the winners in the brokerage category that uses a Generate Order Transaction ( includes accessing the home page, logging in, navigating to the trade page, selecting a stock, previewing the order, cancelling the order, navigating to the trade page and logging out) are:

    • response time: between 3-4 secs
    • average availability: 99.9%
    • standard deviation: between 1.5-2.2 sec

    These are the figures from the server side, and usually there is about an extra second or two added to the response time in getting to the actual user device (the so-called 'last mile'). So basically all of the transactions on the websites that are regarded to be the best performing that industry are well within the 10sec barrier but a little bit more than the ideal 1sec response time. However, depending on the particular action of the user a 3sec response time would be more than acceptable.

    Does anyone have experience or know of any standard measures for these types of response times?

    UPDATE: The RAILs model published by Google provides another set of standard for user interaction response time, but is based on similar principles and ideas.

  • Babossa

    Babossa Correct answer

    7 years ago

    I don't think there is tbh. It always depends on the context, and users generally want everything at once.

    This UX Stack answer is related but doesn't quite answer your question. It contains the guidelines from J. Nielsen but I don't see how they can apply without having a user context. Also, nowadays, who has the patience to wait even close to 10 seconds for something.

    A fair amount of the answers are about giving the user good feedback on what's going on, which would have been my answer as well.

    A simple load animation is suitable for processes that are short and are unlikely to fail, while a progress bar that actually represents the progress, preferably also telling in text what the status is, is better for longer processes (users should be pretty experienced with loading spinners that keep on spinning even though the page is frozen).

    While good system response and clever animations might improve the perceived performance, one should always strive to make one's product as fast as possible. Countless articles treat this subject, for instance this golden oldie from Google.

    When your site is running at top speed, there is of course the option to make it slower again if it suits the flow on your site, but the true performance needs to be there.

    Sorry, my answer doesn't really apply after your edit. I will leave it anyway and then remove it when a better answer appears.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM