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In 1979, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston released VisiCalc. Since then, is there any data for average loading times for time-tracking (or time-keeping) interfaces? For the average office worker submitting her own working hours on a computer, has the response time gone up or down?

Recent data point from one organisation:

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This is from a large enterprise. If the sample is realistic, based on conservative usage estimates, the employees spend an aggregate minimum of fifty work years annually (over 80.000 hours) waiting for page loads in this application. It would be interesting to know whether the situation has improved or deteriorated over the years, industry-wide.

Related questions:

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  • It is rather unlikely to see data like this published because to aggregate internal data for a group of software applications requires a lot of time and effort, not to mention the co-operation of various organizations. Is there a more specific or UX related question you want to ask relating to this?
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 8 at 0:26
  • @MichaelLai, no, the question pertains specifically to the average loading times for time-tracking interfaces. I thought that was rather specific, and also believe it to be highly relevant for the UX aspects of said applications.
    – bjornte
    Mar 10 at 20:16
  • If it is a web based application, the loading time is going to vary depending on a number of different factors, but maybe you can find some report on things like the Google Lighthouse Speed test for time-tracking software. I am not really understanding the problem that you are wanting to solve, or how the information will point to specific UX question, hence this question requires some clarification.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 10 at 22:34
  • @MichaelLai I added an example. As you can see, the organisation in question has what I consider a productivity issue in relation to the user experience of its time tracking software. It can be argued that improvements to the software would have positive ROI. But to build the business case, industry-wide trends would be beneficial for reference purposes.
    – bjornte
    Mar 12 at 18:43

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Loading time for any software depends on a number of different factors, and if we are specifically talking about time tracking software, it also depends on the number of applications it can track or if it is designed to track the time a window is active for a specific application.

However, as with all software applications, performance relates to user experience, so it is in the interest of companies to improve loading time and other associated performance metrics. This is balanced against the features and improvements being introduced to the software application that adds to the time required to process certain functions.

Some have pointed out to the paradox of the modern web being no faster than it was back then, simply because of all the non-relevant content that has been added to the essential information that the user actually wants to see. I assume that there must be some coefficient or ratio that describes this tension between technology improvement and our deliberate and intentional attempts to slow things down, such as this metric of web page load time over the past few years.

The difficulty with measuring the information in a meaningful way is that you have to factor in the difference between web applications versus desktop applications, and then consider the factors that influence the speed or performance for each respective categories. You also have to consider how an application that tracks a single window versus multiple windows or the entire computer works differently, and whether that would affect the load time.

But from the perspective of a particular user using the same software over a period of time, I would expect this not to change significantly. The main change would be when the user switches to a different software.

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