Mobile Web Stress: Understanding the neurological impact of poor performance

Web Performance
Location: King's Suite - Sandringham Level: Non-technical
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 18 ratings)
Slides:   1-PPTX 

We’ve all internalized the fact that slow pages hurt mobile user metrics — from bounce rate to online revenues to long-term user retention. But we wanted to understand the science behind this, so we engaged in the first documented study of the neurological impact of poor performance on mobile users.

Based on similar research performed on desktop users, our study involved using electroencephalography (EEG) and electrooculograph (EOG) technology to monitor brain wave activity, eye movements, and facial muscle movements in a group of mobile users who were asked to perform a series of online transactions via mobile devices. We first established a baseline by serving an optimal user experience. We then artificially throttled pages to simulate random real-world latency.

Using electroencephalography (EEG) and electrooculography (EOG) technology to monitor brain wave activity, eye movements, and facial muscle movements, we applied brain wave and behavioral analysis to identify and measure:

  • Naturally occurring peak stress moments throughout the transaction process, regardless of latency.
  • Correlation and quantification of the relationship between artificial slowdowns and brain activity.
  • At which points in the transaction process participants are more vulnerable to the impact of poor performance, and at which points they are less vulnerable.
  • Contextualization of these findings in real-world mobile use-case environments (e.g. on the go, while multi-tasking)
  • Long-term effects of “web stress”, even after the transaction is complete and participants have stepped away from the mobile device.
  • Anecdotal feedback from participants

We then compared our findings to earlier “web stress” research performed on desktop users to note commonalities and discrepencies.

Your takeaway from this session will be a much deeper understanding of the impact of performance on mobile users, plus hard data that you can use to make a case for investing in mobile performance in your organization.

Photo of Tammy Everts

Tammy Everts


As senior researcher and writer at Strangeloop Networks, I’ve spent the past few years researching the technical, business, and human factors sides of web/application performance, and I’ve spun this research into countless blog posts, presentations, case studies, whitepapers, articles, reports, and — just because they’re cool ☺ — infographics.

Strangeloop was recently acquired by Radware, where I now serve as solution evangelist, and where I’m lucky to be able to continue to contribute to the performance and UX communities by deepening the publicly available body of research.

I blog at Web Performance Today.


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