Is there any research that shows how long a user is willing to wait for search results to come back before they give up? I know Google has made searching instantaneous for people, but barring general web search, for an app—say, an iOS app with potentially intermittent network connectivity—are there any metrics to show how long is "too long" for a search? I should stress that the kind of search I'm talking about involves communicating with a network service.

  • A good start is How loading time affects your bottom line, I've seen plenty of stats on abandonment for web pages but but for search in particular
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 9, 2012 at 21:50
  • It would depend how motivated your users are and how much they believe it's worth waiting. Which depends on your content and your relationship with your users. Oct 9, 2012 at 21:54
  • 1
    In a blink ;-).
    – Aman J
    Oct 10, 2012 at 10:53
  • 12.535 seconds... Seriously I don't know. It depends on the app, users and level of feedback given.
    – Wander
    Oct 10, 2012 at 12:08
  • In android, you get 5 second to respond.
    – user117
    Oct 11, 2012 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


If your app is making large queries, and there's a delay or throttling, you may not have control over that. Add to that latency of the network, and your results will take even longer.

What you do have some control over is how responsive your app feels to users, which can buy you some time and forgiveness. Without knowing your situation, is it possible to use some hint text to set user expectations?

There is a distinction between absolute response times, and perceived responsiveness of your app itself.

In the book 'Designing with the Mind in Mind' (Jeff Johnson), one principle is:

Acknowledge user actions instantly, even if returning the answer will take time; preserve users’ perception of cause and effect

  • Yeah, I wasn't particularly concerned with the appearance of responsiveness; I'm a fanatic when it comes to keeping an app responsive at all times. I guess it was more a question of acceptable network wait.
    – user10242
    Oct 9, 2012 at 23:23

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