It’s Time To Kill The Horrible Loading GIF
Are You As Tired of Seeing The Loading GIF as Am I?
Seen this lately?
I’ll bet you have – and the hundreds of other variations of the ubiquitous, LOADING, PLEASE WAIT for a gif or whatever – you know, that thing designers throw in when they realize that their page is taking too long to load?
I don’t understand that if you ask me, we are seeing way more of these than we should. Not only that, we are seeing MORE now than we ever have before! Why do our pages keep slowing down if our network speeds keep going up?
When I first started out on the internet, using a trusty dial-up to get on, we could live with a few seconds’ delay when we logged on. For one company I worked for, we got a fully graphical home page that clocked in at 50K, and it took what we thought was forever to load.
Fast forward to today: we have fiber to the home, upwards of 25Mb to most homes, and if you actually clock the real-time from click to page or app load, it’s worse than a few seconds, placated by a loading gif. Why is that?
As processing speeds and network throughput speeds have increased, we’ve kept pace by making our websites and apps slower, burdening the user with waiting and waiting. Even the normally snappy Google home page has now added junk in the guise of Google+ notifications, apps grid, and other stuff which most probably don’t need. It reminds me a bit of the day when Microsoft would release versions of Windows, which would slow existing computers that were upgraded because they were targeting the next generation of hardware – I think they learned that lesson with Vista.
If you ask me, the web and apps should load faster, not slower. We should be seeing LESS of the loading gif and not more.
I get that as technologies move forward, we need to use the latest and great tools to provide the absolute best experiences. But we should also look to the overall speed experience, from click to run, and I’m not talking just adding in loading gifs when the pages slow down. I mean, figure out what is slowing you down, and unless it’s key to the whole experience, junk it.
This is also an unfortunate side effect of the API economy, where much of what you do depends on some API or another to work.
We are going in the wrong direction. We are slowing down our sites and apps faster than the speeds that the networks and devices are accelerating. We’ve got to make it a focus to turn this around, to retire the loading gif for good. So let’s do it.
One more thing I forgot to mention – loading screens in video games are getting epically long as well – if these boxes are soooo powerful, why does it take 2 minutes to load a level?
The loading graphic provides feedback that something is happening and provides a measurable perceived loading time to things that can take a while to load. Sometimes we have to work with large data sets to provide useful functionality to our end users and it simply takes time to process everything. Sometimes it’s not feasible to spend millions of dollars re-architecting something to save a few seconds of load time. There are still billions of people that don’t have what many of us would consider average internet speeds, were all not cruising fiber networks.