Real speed and perceived speed, try to put them both together as part of good web performance because site speed is something to check out all the time, site speed is key for sooooooo… many good reasons and a lot has been written lately about speeding up your website by fine-tuning and tweaking the backend and frontend (HTML and CSS) of your website for better formatting and performance. A speedy website is extremely important for a wide range of obvious reasons but mainly to improve ROI (Return On Investment) numbers.
Crafting amazing websites is just not enough, it will also have to be really fast to still be amazing. Even Google seems to like fast websites !
Mostly we bother about speed for business reasons beacuse we want conversions. The faster the website loads in the browser, the faster the user can sign up or make a purchase, in a word: convert !
This is one of the benefits of being fast. But another side of things that I´ve been noticing lately is an aim to “look” fast. This may be a good way to bypass this issue specially because nowadays we happen to find more and more heavy loaded websites packed with tons of images and video, heavy stuff.
Obviously, giving a good first impression with responsive design layouts is very important but there are a few things that you can do to make a web page appear faster than it really is that just go beyond the purely technical points. For example the way you align the fields on a sing-up form, or the number of fields, or even the background color of the fields can impact someone´s perception of the form. The difference between horizontal and vertical alignments can make a form look faster to complete. The strategic use of animation could also give the idea of something being fast and easy to manipulate.
If the primary element on the page you´re designing also contains the main call to action of the page, the faster someone will notice this and the faster they can act on it. This technically isn´t faster in the sense of tracked time, but it can seem faster.
To help this happen you may need to keep calls to action above the fold or lead cleverly the visitor to scroll or follow along with a story or something similar until they reach the desired point, distract them with something interesting. So the use of the right tone or imagery can be really important.
Keeping the user´s perception of speed or ease of use in mind (usability is always part of the game, isn´t it ?) as you design can pay dividends. I challenge you to consider this idea of perceived speed as you work through prototyping your next design project and see where it leads you. Try not to leave the user just “Loading …” for too long !