This past weekend, the New York Times published an interesting article.

In it, Matt Richtel and Ashlee Vance discussed the computer industry’s plans to offer PCs that boot up more quickly.

According to Richtel and Vance, HP, Dell and Lenovo will soon be selling machines that boot up and “give people access to basic functions like e-mail and a Web browser in 30 seconds or less.”

In my opinion, the New York Times discussion can be extended to website and web application design.

Any half-decent web designer knows that making a good impression quickly is critical. When a user goes to a new website, a judgment is made in a fraction of a second. It’s important to establish credibility and covey a message quickly.

Users will not spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out the message your website is trying to deliver. What do you offer? What is your purpose? What is the value proposition? If your website doesn’t answer these questions right off the bat, it’s hard to capture and convert.

All Web Design 101.

Web application designers need to apply the same general principles when they develop web applications. Here are some tips:

  • Develop useful applications. When competing for a user’s time, it helps to have a useful application.
  • Make sure your application is responsive. Users shouldn’t be forced to wait for applications to react and perform. This means a number of things at both the interface and application level. Specifically, the interface needs to be designed so that the user knows what’s happening at all times and the application itself needs to be developed with performance in mind.
  • Don’t add too many features. I’ve noticed a lot of web applications that are the web equivalent of bloatware. They’re filled with useless features that make it harder to do what the application is designed to do. This often serves a marketing purpose but it increases the amount of time it takes the user to get things done.
  • KISS. Remember that simplicity is elegance. If your application’s purpose, functionality and interface are simple, you have a better shot at success.