Slow Download Times

Mobiquity has a recent infographic on the connected traveller showing the findings of an independent study of 1000 people using smartphones and tablets to plan and book travel with 19 top travel brands. While it’s all about travel, the learnings are probably just as applicable to other industries.

The main factors that cause poor mobile experiences are…

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The tablet is the preferred device for booking future travel. One in four people book on their tablet after reseaching on their tablet. 35% of travellers who have an unsatisfactory experience are less likely to book again.

Slow load time is the top reason for an unsatisfactory experience. So what can developers do about this? Here are some thoughts on some of my past projects that are more pertinent to apps rather than mobile sites…

  • Bundle up as much as is sensible/possible into the initial install rather than relying on http for static images that will never or are unlikely to change.
  • Mobile isn’t that good at fetching lots of small downloads (images). If there are a lot of them think about bundling them up into one larger zip. The bonus is that the server will also be less loaded and hence serve information quicker. In fact, I have seen some projects re-implement the server side to aggregate up data just so that the server is less loaded.
  • Perform lazy self-loading of images. Show textual information before the corresponding images have been downloaded that will show as ‘loading…’ until they self-load.
  • Make sure you are not duplicating downloaded data. I have worked on too many projects that download the same data again and again just because the server side API designer has been lazy.
  • Think about using push rather than pull. Asking the user to wait while there’s going to be a very long download causes a poor mobile experience. If you really know you can’t do something quickly then tell the user you will inform them when the information is ready - and then push it via a notification.

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