Doherty Threshold

Image created with Midjourney. Image prompt:
Image created with Midjourney. Image prompt: Visualize an abstract 2d minimal style representation of a computer and a user, both standing on two ends of a 400ms timeline. The computer and the user are simultaneously reaching towards the center of the timeline, symbolizing their synchronized interaction

"Productivity soars when a computer and its users interact at a pace (<400ms) that ensures that neither has to wait on the other." This statement encapsulates the essence of the Doherty Threshold, a principle established in 1982 by Walter J. Doherty and Ahrvind J. Thadani. According to their research, when a computer's response time falls below 400 milliseconds, users become more engaged, finding the software "addicting"1.

The Doherty Threshold in Action: Three Examples

Consider three scenarios in the digital software product industry where the Doherty Threshold plays a critical role:

  1. Search Engines: Google, for instance, strives to return search results in less than 400ms, which maintains user engagement and reduces the perceived wait time.
  2. Social Media Platforms: Facebook and Instagram, for example, aim to load images and videos in a fraction of a second to keep users scrolling and engaging with the platform.
  3. E-Commerce Sites: Companies like Amazon prioritize quick page load times and instant feedback on user actions to ensure a smooth shopping experience.

Doherty Threshold and Digital Product Creation

In the creation of digital software products, respecting the Doherty Threshold is paramount. A well-optimized response time not only boosts user engagement but also contributes to the overall user experience.

Developers need to focus on performance optimization strategies, such as efficient algorithms, quick server responses, and optimized databases, to achieve sub-400ms response times. User interface designers, on the other hand, should work on creating seamless transitions and providing instant feedback on user interactions.

Additionally, it's not only about achieving a sub-400ms response time but maintaining it consistently. Performance should be regularly tested and monitored to ensure that it remains below the Doherty Threshold even as the application evolves and scales.

Moreover, the Doherty Threshold also highlights the importance of perceived performance. Techniques like lazy loading, skeleton screens, and progressive image loading can make an application feel faster by providing immediate feedback to the user, even if the complete response takes a bit longer.

In conclusion, the Doherty Threshold serves as a valuable guideline for creating engaging and responsive digital software products. By striving to maintain interaction times under 400ms, developers and designers can boost productivity, enhance user experience, and ultimately, create more successful and "addicting" software products.