I am currently dealing with a summary of "Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (5th edition)" by Ben Shneiderman & Catherine Plaisant.

In this summary it is stated that:

Speedy and quickly done work can result in users:

  • learning less
  • reading with lower comprehension
  • making more ill-considered decisions
  • committing more data-entry errors


Rapid response times (1 second or less) are preferable, but can increase errors for complex tasks

along with

Shorter response time may cause the user to fail to comprehend the presented materials

So my question is why would short response times cause this?

Some more information:

These statements refer to "Chapter 10, 10.2 Models of Response Time Impacts"

After some more research of my own:

I found the source of the summary, it is from the University of Minnesota, the summary is found here.

  • Seems bizarre to me. And who thinks 1 second is a fast response time for a user interface?
    – user31143
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:18
  • @dan1111 I think so, too. But I am curios if this claim can be backed up, so I asked this question Sep 12, 2014 at 6:19
  • Sounds fishy - but you say you are "dealing with a summary of ...". Can the summary be wrong, i.e., are these statements from the book itself (e.g., in a chapter summary) or are they taken from another source? Sep 12, 2014 at 9:12
  • @virtualnobi The chances that the summary is wrong are quite low, since I got them from my professor . And the summary has a"© 2010 Pearson Addison-Wesley. All rights reserved. "-tag, so it is likely to be from the book directly. Sep 12, 2014 at 9:27
  • @virtualnobi You find the original source of the summary added in the question. Sep 12, 2014 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


Think on the action of user pasting into a document (eg. in a word processing sofware). Imagine that each time it would open the “Special paste” dialog and start asking you whether you want it to be pasted as plain text, formatted text, converted as an image, an OLE document embedded, perhaps linked…

Having a ‘paste’ action that directly pastes what seems more reasonable provides a faster response time (we cut off a whole dialog and remove lots of hard-to-understand options the user would have to choose from) and improve the user experience.

Shorter response time may cause the user to fail to comprehend the presented materials

why would short response times cause this?

By simplifying the interface there are less details shown to the user. Suppose that you pasted an excerpt from a file and it produced a link to the original document. The original document was later updated and that changed the contents of the second document.

On the other hand, if the user had needed to go through the dialog for choosing the kind of pasting he preferred, that makes for noticing that the default paste method for this kind of content is embedding with a link to the original. And choose a different option if he's not interested on doing that for this document.

  • I do not quite understand how this backs up the quoted statements ... It seems to back up that: faster response leads to ux improveent Sep 12, 2014 at 10:10
  • @AndroidRookie The first part deals with faster response ➜ better ui, but the second part shows the kind of problems for 'failing to comprehend the material' that can be caused by producing shorter response times (in this case by simplifying the ui, although if the user was trained to always press Ok in the dialog without reading it, we would have the same issue). Nonetheless some users may have read (and even understood) the manual, they may know that type XYZ is linked by default and not need to go through the dialog for correctly using it.
    – Ángel
    Sep 12, 2014 at 10:30
  • Okay, I get your point now. But the statements says (IMHO), that the short response time itself causes the bad ux. Your answer gives reasons, why optimizing for speed may harm the ux. Sep 12, 2014 at 11:31

While waiting for a satisfying answer, I did some more research and finally found an excerpt from the book .

In the text it is said that:

But there is also a danger in working too quickly. As users pick up the pace of a rapid interaction sequence, they may learn less, read with lower comprehension, make ill-considered decisions, and commit more data entry errors. Stress can build in this situation if errors are hard to recover from, or if they destroy data, damage equipment, or imperil human life (e.g., in air traffic or medical systems)

And later on:

As response times grow shorter and display rates increase, users pick up the pace of the system and may fail to comprehend the presented material, generate incorrect solution plans, and make more execution errors.

These statements are based on a study from Barber and Lucas (1983) , which see the lowest error rate at a response time of 12 seconds.

But both claims (the users pick up the pace) are not backed up and the study is 30 years old, so I won't accept this answer as "correct". If any other answer can prove or disprove these statements, I will accept it.

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