Greg Linden has a great post summarizing a talk that Marissa Mayer of Google gave at the recent Web 2.0 conference. I encourage you to read it because Marissa talks about how Google ran a user test where users wanted more search results. Surprisingly, traffic and revenue dropped by 20% and what Marissa discovered was that load times for less searches was .4 seconds and load times with more searches was .9 seconds. Despite the fact that users really wanted more results, in the end, according to Marissa and Greg, speed matters.
This makes total sense. In the broadband world we live in today, the Internet is about instant gratification. I could argue that one of the reasons YouTube exploded on to the scene (besides the fact that it had every copyrighted video out there on its site) is because of its use of Flash – no download and instant gratification right in the web browser. It sounds simple but it is true. There are many vectors that you can optimize with respect to consumer experience but take it from Marissa and Greg that in the end, users want instant gratification. In my mind what instant gratification really means is speed and ease of use. It has to load fast and it has to be easy. This is about reducing friction for users to experience your service and reducing the friction for you to generate revenue. Remember no matter how many extra bells and whistles you add, don’t forget that speed and ease of use really matters.