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Abstract

Web page loading speed continues to vex users, even as broadband adoption increases. Several studies have addressed delays in the context of Web sites as well as interactive corporate systems, and have recommended a wide range of ¡°rules of thumb.¡± Some studies conclude that response times should be no greater than 2 seconds while other studies caution on delays of 12 seconds or more. One of the strongest conclusions was that complex tasks seemed to allow longer response times. This study examined delay times of 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 seconds using 196 undergraduate students in an experiment. Randomly assigned a constant delay time, subjects were asked to complete 9 search tasks, exploring a familiar and an unfamiliar site. Plots of the dependent variables performance, attitudes, and behavioral intentions, along those delays, suggested the use of non-linear regression, and the explained variance was in the neighborhood of 2%, 5%, and 7%, respectively. Focusing only on the familiar site, explained variance in attitudes and behavioral intentions grew to about 16%. A sensitivity analysis implies that decreases in performance and behavioral intentions begin to flatten when the delays extend to 4 seconds or longer, and attitudes flatten when the delays extend to 8 seconds or longer. Future research should include other factors such as expectations, variability, and feedback, and other outcomes such as actual purchasing behavior, to more fully understand the effects of delays in today¡¯s Web environment.

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