The Impact of a Lack of Page Refresh

The web is fast. Way faster than when I began building sites back in 2001. Along with that speed, comes cooler sites doing things in “better” ways, like refreshing content on a page instead of refreshing the entire page.

I’ve noticed more recently though, while working from parts of the country significantly more remote than, say, Pittsburgh, that in some places, the web is still chugging along at several seconds to a minute load times for these newer, larger web pages. While modern civilization can handle loading a 1MB web page relatively quickly, slower connections in some parts of the world aren’t so lucky.

One major issue (or perhaps just an annoyance) that I’ve come across is refreshing content on a page without actually reloading the page itself. When you’re on a slow connection, you often perform some action, such as logging in, and then…you wait. If the site works some magic that prevents the entire page from reloading (a good thing, as I don’t have to wait as long), there’s often very little visual clue that something has happened. I stare off into space for a moment to look at what the real world has to offer my pupils as a time passer, and without the whole process of a flash of white screen then the page rebuilding, I often don’t realize that the action I was trying to perform has taken affect. So…my wait time is even longer because I’m not paying the kind of attention one might describe as “locking your eyes on this screen”.

When designing sites, it’s vital to provide some type of “hey, I’m done!” when loading content without a page refresh. A simple message, like “Ok!” and the clever use of color to make this message pop is probably sufficient.

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