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Ognjen Regoje

I make things that run on the web (mostly).
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`Artificial` speed in user interfaces

A few weeks ago there was an article on HackerNews talking about how services add delays and loading bars to their user interfaces in order to make the process seem more thorough and trustworthy. Examples included Facebook’s verification and a mortgage search. The pattern was called “artificial waiting”.

It’s an interesting concept however I haven’t been able to find much other than anecdotal evidence for it.

On the other hand, I am much more interested (and delighted) when I find examples of artificial speed rather than waiting. Here are a few examples I remember, not including the obvious such as loading low-res images and infinite scrolling.


First, when a user installs an app from the store the phone nearly instantly indicates that it’s done. In fact it’s not really done it’s just started and it’s being done in the background.

Secondly, when you’re turning the phone off, as soon as you swipe right, the screen instantly turns off even though I suspect it takes a second or two to actually turn off.


Each of the lessons loads quickly, but the pronounciation sound is actually delayed. After all the questions are loaded and question one is shown, a low quality version of the sound is fetched. When it’s done it will request the high quality version. The low quality clip is very light, loads on bad networks and is used only when the proper one is too slow to load. Very nicely done.


Chrome will start relatively quickly but will only load the active tab. If you immediately switch to another tab, it’ll have to trigger the normal loading. But if you stay in the current tab for a bit it will load others in the background.

I believe Firefox used to do something similar as well.


When calling a phone, Skype plays its own sound that gives the impression that the phone is ringing almost immediately. This is before the connection is actually made and the real phone starts to ring.

This is my least favorite example because it’s the only one that’s deceptive. All others are useful.

I like these examples much more than the artificial waiting ones because they do something useful. The iPhone turning the screen off shows that no further user interaction is needed. Duolingo works fine on low speed connections. Chrome does get you up and running quicker. It’s not just about perception, it’s about getting the user to a useful point as quickly as possible.

Bonus: Bitbucket

For larger images it loads a low res grayscale image first.

#design #product