I want to make an application to find parking and my question is if I should place the map on the first page.

On the one hand the map shows you where you are; if you're in a city that is not yours it can help.

On the other hand, the map could have a large loading time, and mobile speed is very important.

which would you recommend?

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    There's not enough information here to answer the question with any certainty, but assuming looking at a map is the primary objective of the user, yea, you might as well start with that if it's showing useful information. – DA01 Apr 9 '13 at 18:39
  • Am I correct in understanding that the map will have to be loaded anyway? Is any user input required and if so would it be possible to allow that input while the map is still being loaded (eg. AJAXed in)? – Koen Lageveen Apr 9 '13 at 20:16

You have to chose between two User Experience options: speed vs. feature. As it happens I'm in the current situation as well at work. We have a landing page with a lot of features, making it extremely heavy to load, and in production the infrastructure could be better.

So what do we do? Use cache as far as we can take it, reducing loading time - because the features are important (otherwise they wouldn't be there in the first place).

You can do the same. Use a map as light as possible without losing too many details. If your users start to interact with the map in scrolling or zooming you could load a little more details, just enough to make it readable and still keep reasonable loading time.

Don't take away good features because they are heavy - make the features lighter insted!

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When the people who use the site hit the home page what do they want to do?

Answering that question will help provide the answer to your question.

For example - assuming we're talking a web app here - maybe on a smartphone I don't want to see a map. Maybe I want a list of the three closes parking locations and clicking on one of those will open the native mapping app.

I don't know. Because you've not told us about your customers and their needs. That's what drives the interaction design.

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What if you let the other page content on the homepage to load and render first, and then use AJAX to load and render the map afterward? To make it even more user friendly, throw in the spin loading while the AJAX is fetching the map data.

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In the first version it does not matter, but if its used by many I would prefer a way to choose what is on my main page or a way to directly go to another bookmarked view after login and not have to go to the heavy page at all.

Lot of places have cheaper and more stable 2G so for a few more years would benefit from apps that plan for that

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