Perceivedfastness

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Google Chrome and Apple Safari scare me. They shouldn’t, but they do. Part of me just doesn’t want to let go of Firefox and all the extensions I depend on and have learned to use. But when I use Chrome (on Windows) or Safari (on OS X), they tend to feel snappier. Maybe my Firefox installs are bogged down with said extensions. Or perhaps those other browsers are just plain faster.

Beyond actually being faster, there are tricks to feeling faster or at the very least appearing faster. My favorite is the loading icons/animation. Chrome has the best trick: while waiting for a server response, the loading icon spins counterclockwise slowly. As soon as the server gets a response and the browser starts receiving information, the animation switches to a clockwise spin at a significantly faster speed. It’s almost as if to say “Hey, that server is slow and boring, but look how fast we deal with it to make up for their boring slowness”. Or so I like to think.

Safari used to use the location bar as a progress meter, extending the highlighted portion across it as it loaded giving a visual sense of the percentage complete. It gave a finite measure to the amount of time you should expect for the page to complete, approximate of course and sometimes with varying accuracy. But it was great. Now it’s gone and replaced with an animation just spins infinitely – smoothly, but uselessly. It does at least change color from the waiting for server status to rendering the page status.

Firefox also uses a spinner. This time in the tab. The noticeable annoyance of Firefox is sometimes that spinner hangs. Or again, maybe it’s just my bogged down version. But when that spinner hangs, it sure makes the page rendering feel slow and unresponsive. It also offers zero additional information beyond that it the page is still loading.

Remember the days of the browser logo in the top right corner animating?


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