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spoiler: companies intentionally slow down their UI to make it seem more believable.

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    Oh no. This is exactly the way not to do things. Humans need to learn that computers are fast. Every time they are not, there is someone to blame.

    When people do not trust an algorithm comparing phone plans, the correct way would be to present a breakdown of the analysis instead of just the result. Every aspect of the winning plan should have been compared with it’s neighbors and scores presented. See for example cpuboss.com.

    Making the software feel wise is returning from science and education back to beliefs and superstitions.

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      These aren’t CLI tools.

      Humans need to learn…

      Why? This does not sound like the way to start designing anything that puts humans first.

      When people do not trust an algorithm comparing phone plans…

      I would like to see a counter-example to support the idea that a instantaneous-but-more-detailed comparison tool will be judged just as trustworthy. cpuboss is not this counter-example for two different reasons:

      1. cpuboss is not instantaneous in the first place. Measuring time-to-first-render on my fast computer / reasonable internet, I get 1.22 seconds. Subsequent page loads with a warm cache are faster, but it’s still doing a network round-trip to get them, coming in at hundreds of milliseconds.

      2. It’s a completely different tool. cpuboss is comparing only two CPUs in a head-to-head. The examples in the article were computing a recommendation based on many available options.

      “But when we tested with people, they assumed it was all marketing bullshit because it was instantaneous. They’d say, ‘This was obviously a canned result, I’m just gonna shop myself.’”

      I find it really hard to imagine any design solution that could make me, personally, trust random site X that I stumble across when looking for recommendations for Y, if I feel like I’m being served a canned result that might be paid for by the recommended option. A detailed feature matrix? Why would I trust that? Something else?

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        Why? This does not sound like the way to start designing anything that puts humans first.

        Let me rephrase that. Humans, in aggregate, need to learn about computers. When we resign on understanding the features and limitations of the tools we use, we might end up using them incorrectly. Not ideal when we let those tools decide for us. More on the topic in chapter 4 of Summa Technologiae or even the renowned movie I, Robot.

        I would like to see a counter-example to support the idea that a instantaneous-but-more-detailed comparison tool will be judged just as trustworthy.

        Haven’t there recently been a wave of “Right to Explanation” links?

        If such a study found that the tool would not be trusted as much, I would argue against slowdowns anyway. It’s not only morally wrong, it’s the wrong trend in general. We can’t let our tools use such low psychological tricks on ourselves!

        cpuboss is not this counter-example for two different reasons:

        Of course, I was pointing at the way the results are presented. It’s still far from ideal by not presenting individual benchmark scores and confidence but still way better than if it just took long.

        It’s a completely different tool. cpuboss is comparing only two CPUs in a head-to-head. The examples in the article were computing a recommendation based on many available options.

        Not really, it’s all about delegating the decision to a tool.

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        Surely you’ve refreshed your browser multiple times, “It can’t have refreshed properly so quickly!”.
        Unfortunately half the time we are right and it just got a cached version for some reason.

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        There’s also slowing things down to make them more legible. Minimizing a window could be instant (1ms or less). If you close a window on OS X, it plays an animation of the window shrinking into the dock, which you can later restore it from. The whole operation takes around 200-500 ms (I haven’t timed it). It’s a great teach tool for something that would be totally baffling to new users.

        It’s a pet peeve of mine that I couldn’t turn all of these off. As lovely and educational as they are, after a few thousand operations (especially from keyboard shortcuts) I know what’s going to happen and want zero distractions or delays. It seems petty, but it’s one of the big reasons I prefer running Linux on the desktop, the OS X and Windows interfaces present a constant low-grade irritation.

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          See How to turn off all animations on OS X for a list of commands you can run. Running them might be quicker than installing a GUI tool. Window minimization in particular is sped up by one of these two commands, I’m not sure which:

          defaults write -g NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool false
          defaults write -g NSWindowResizeTime -float 0.001
          
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            It’s a pet peeve of mine that I couldn’t turn all of these off.

            While you can’t turn it off, I believe you can hold Shift before minimising to extend animations. I’m not sure why this feature exists.

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              To look cool?

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                Debugging maybe?

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                It’s a pet peeve of mine that I couldn’t turn all of these off.

                FWIW, a lot of the OS X animations and delays can be turned off, but only through the use of not-well-documented preferences rather than System Preferences. Third-party tools like OnyX and TotalSpaces do provide nicer-looking GUI wrappers though.

                Still, you make a very valid point and these pointless animations are frustrating and give the impression that hardware hasn’t seen much improvement over the past ten years - we’re still seeing windows minimise and move around at Windows XP/OS X 10.4 speeds.

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                  these pointless animations

                  I don’t think they’re pointless at all! The point is for novice/unconfident users to learn the UI, and they work quite well. But I’m not in that demographic, so I’m just frustrated.

                  Thanks for the links to tweak tools; I’ve noted them for the next time I’m stuck on a closed platform. :)

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                    I phrased that badly - I’m not against the animations, I’m against the unnecessary delays! Things like the delay when switching to the previous or next space on OS X (a delay that cannot be changed) infuriate. A delay is fine (heck, an animation without one would be near instantaneous, so there wouldn’t actually be any perceptible animation), but (a) don’t make it excessive and (b) make it modifiable.

                    Rant over. :)

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                  It’s a great teach tool for something that would be totally baffling to new users.

                  One wonders how many of these mythical new users there are.

                  We have had WIMP interfaces for over three decades.

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                    They say in the old times new humans would appear daily, barbarically ejected from female humans. These new humans were called “children.” Modern historians largely believe this to be a myth, and claim all user interfaces should be opaque to anyone not willing to read the man pages.

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                      No, they’re out playing Pokemon Go.

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                  Funny. On the flip-side, whenever I encounter something on my phone or desktop browser that has a generously slow progress bar creeping toward the 100% mark, I personally tend to think, “I wonder how many tracking pixels and 3rd-party cookies are being fired off right now while I wait.”

                  Also, wat:

                  “Let’s say you sit down at a restaurant, you order your food, and it comes out one minute later. Is that a good thing?” asks Braden Kowitz, design partner at Google Ventures (which has more than 250 portfolio companies including Uber, Slack, and Nest). “You start to wonder, ‘What’s going on here? Is something wrong in the kitchen?’”

                  Was this a serious comparison between cooking food at a restaurant–a process that inherently takes time for biochemical reactions to occur–and a server handling a client request?

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                    In a similar vein

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                      This skirts the edge of belonging in http://darkpatterns.org/ . There is a human nature aspect to it that is undeniable, though.

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                        But that human nature seems like it’s more of a learned thing, and not an inherent trait. I’d say it’s definitely a dark pattern because it’s training people that they should keep waiting. Give them the results when they come, and prove their accuracy, and people will learn that there don’t need to be long waits.

                        It’s like piping in motor sounds to some newer cars, because they’re so silent. I’d rather have the silence than fake noise because it proves how good the engineering is.

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                        This has always been a thing on the internet. The simplest example falls in the category of “wait 5 seconds to be redirected” and the most infuriating are probably travel sites taking ages to populate with results.

                        I know you have my flights! ITA Matrix is fast and that’s what you use! Give me my results dammit.

                        I cant imagine making everyone wait 8-30 seconds for the cell phone plan optimizer. I’d think something was horribly wrong with their back end if I experienced that.

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                          Not sure if this is the exact experience you’re referring to, but many sites (especially bigger media/content publishers) will use the “wait 5 seconds to be redirected” technique to serve one or more ads in the interim. The explicit 5 second requirement is solely to guarantee that the ads count as an IAB-compliant “viewable impression”, requiring an ad to be at least 50% visible for at least one second [1].

                          [1] http://mediaratingcouncil.org/081815%20Viewable%20Ad%20Impression%20Guideline_v2.0_Final.pdf

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                            That’s interesting, I didn’t know about that requirement. I was thinking more about the ones where no ads are shown and it’s merely a blank page with the redirect message and a js timer.

                            Thanks for the link, interesting stuff.

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                          There are parallels without computers.

                          In a friends real estate business, clients who want x and y in a house, often don’t believe her if she immediately answers that there are no houses in her inventory that match their description. They accept it much better if she deliberately takes more time to respond. Although this might be affected by clients not wanting to believe the answer.

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                            This is people in power positions dumbing things down for the little people, much like the FDA dumbing down the state of nutrition science into the Food Pyramid. They are probably convinced there is valid marketing research to back up the decision. In both cases it is a disservice to the little people.

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                              I think I appreciate this as a pretty good U/X compromise while we learn to adapt to the instantaneous relationship we have with computer intelligence. Inevitably, and hopefully with some awareness, we’ll learn to harness the electric extension of our mind, although I keep thinking that awareness itself is biologically limited. Deep thoughts.

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                                I KNEW IT

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                                    All of the comments in this thread look like people have read the article.

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                                      I read the article and read most of the Wikipedia page but I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. care to explain?