10-Second Usability

I’ve always know there had to be some rule or logic that someone has laid out for usability.  Especially from a marketing perspective.  Recently I took to reading a few pages of Web Analytics Demystified by Eric T. Peterson.  While reading through the book in the very first few pages the 10-second usability rule is mentioned.  It reads:

  • One tenth of a second (0.1) is the limit for a user to feel that a system is responding immediately when engaged in a task.
  • One second (1) is the limit for a user’s flow to remain uninterrupted, allowing them to notice a delay but not losing the feeling of direct connection with the task.
  • Ten seconds (10) is the upper limit for keeping users focused on a single task.  When faced with delays of ten seconds or longer, users have a tendency to engage in side tasks or become frustrated with the lack of system response.

Thinking back over the last few years I’ve known more than a few people that needed a lesson in this concept.  Simply put, if you aren’t aware or paying attention to this concept when building UIs, you are already VERY close to failing.

So keep it close and in mind, a second is too much to lose!