Processor Fans Are A Part Of UX

March 29, 2010 •

The web is advancing with CSS3 Transitions. At Paravel we’ve been thinking a lot about the best practices and approaches to using these fancy jQuery and CSS3 animations. While our thoughts are loosely coupled with the HTML5 vs. FLASH debate, the web is moving forward and we’re excited about how what could only be done in Flash can now be done in-browser.

My biggest lament - no matter how good the video or how impressive the animation - is when I pull up a site with animation and I see my 2 processors max out. My fans kick on. My mouse pointer suddenly disappears. My machine begins to chug and seize.1

It’s generally understood that assaulting a site visitor with an audio clip when the page loads is a bad user experience practice, but couldn’t the same be said for overloading a processor? If your site demands too much from the client-side, you’re directly affecting the client’s experience. In my own experience, there have been times where I’ve had to turn up my speakers to drown out the sounds of my processor fans just to hear a video.

Flash, Javascript and now CSS animations (even HTML5 web workers) are all client-side technologies that we must use wisely. As a rule of thumb, it’s probably smart to follow the old adage: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”2

For even better UX advice…

For even better, more inspiring, UX advice I recommend you read 52 Weeks of UX. It’ll provoke your thoughts. I’m a big fan3.

  1. I have a pretty good computer, an early 2009 MacBook Pro / 2.4GHz Intel Core2 Duo / 4GB RAM. It’s no 8 core system with 10GB of RAM though. Make sure you test your fancy new site on an older less-1337 machine.

  2. i.e. Don’t hack together your own video player if you’re not as smart as the YouTube team.

  3. Pun intended.

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