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Facebook, on my setup (OS X, Chrome) takes about a 1 second to close. I can imagine that there could be some stuff that has to be done, just before you close the browser, and that is taking up time/resources. However, I've started to wonder if something like this could not be intentional? What is the effect of a site that takes time to close?

On the one side, I can argue that making a site take time to close (non-instantaneous) creates a barrier to leaving. It is an annoying grievance that the feedback is not quick and responsive, so as a user, you want to avoid it, by keeping it open.

On the other hand, that grievance can have an opposite effect: the perception that Facebook is bloated and slow. My last experience of it was that it was unresponsive, so I don't want to come back.

Or is it both? A continuum? A very small 'lag' can have the first effect, but making it longer is more annoying? Or is it just not a good idea?

EDIT: For clarification, I'm referring to the closing of a browser tab.

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What do you mean by 'slow to close'? Are you talking about logging out? You're question reads as if you're talking about closing the browser / tab. – JonW May 13 '12 at 13:52
That is indeed the case. Closing the browser tab. – Simon de la Rouviere May 13 '12 at 13:57
I don't think people will keep open a site because it's slow, they'll probably simply get fed up and leave. Facebook's not a good example; people would use Facebook if it took 10 minutes to open/close – Ben Brocka May 13 '12 at 14:20
So is it about the site, or the browser processing? FWIW, I don't think anyone cares how long it takes, as they have moved onto other things, but it is important which is to blame for apparent slowness. – Schroedingers Cat May 13 '12 at 14:34
It's likely the browser--not the site. With tabbed browsing, browsers eat up a lot of RAM these days and get sluggish over time. – DA01 May 13 '12 at 23:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the general idea is that unless you absolutely have to or are going to get some great benefit out of it, do not hook into the on close event and slow down your user's intended action. It's a delicate balancing act for the reason you pointed out, that the appearance is then that your site is slow and bloated as the user starts to lose their feeling of direct manipulation. The thought here is that in general its no more than a mere hesitation so the data received is worth it.

I don't think you're going to find a situation where if the user has had experience with slow closing pages they're going to just leave pages open. I think instead they would just stop using the site altogether. However, with most apps that I've seen slowing down the page close, its been an app that you either will not care (or can't do anything about) how long it takes (Facebook, or some work related app you have to use).

Facebook does appear to be making web service calls when it closes so it is doing some processing of some information they deem reasonable for you to wait on. This is not what I was expecting -- initially my assumption was that since Facebook is so content heavy it might actually just be taking a second for your browser to clear up the memory it was using on that tab.

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I didn't even know that you could do this... – Daniel Imms May 14 '12 at 6:00

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