Monday, February 8, 2010

Interactivity vs Bandwidth

Would you rather have a web page that loads quickly - and offers minimal or no interactivity, or build a nice interactive experience - and hope that the site visitor will not lose patience as the page loads?

A recent article by Poonam on titled The Importance of Web Interactivity: Tips and Examples provides a case in point. The article itself is a remarkable compilation of some of the world's most interesting interactive web sites. Poonam' s radar sweeps from Starbuck's Find My Perfect Coffee quiz to Mercedes, Nokia and Harry Potter. She even talks about Monoface, a site where you can manipulate facial features to create funny faces with mouse clicks.

What's interesting is the numerous comments on this article - presumably from web designers. Several of them loved the ideas in her article, but are not sure they can take the leap of faith in the face of bandwidth constraints many users face.

It will be interesting to see how increasing bandwidths, better compression techniques and improvements in Flash and Silverlight resolve these concerns.


  1. On one side we have the stickiness of a website which I believe is directly proportional to the Quality and Quantity of interactivity which is again directly proportional to the amount of time that it will take up for loading.

    Definitely loading times can be great turn-offs but looks like Google's working on it. Mitch in his tool talk at "" explains Google's Gigabit experiment. This probably highlights the fact that the distribution of broadband access has proceeded rapidly, but as we talk there is still might be a small probability of people accessing websites through dial-up. Probably because they cannot pay for the higher cost of broadband or because this service is not available where they live.
    Well, I am not sure how Flash and Silverlight can contribute in retaining the stickiness of the website over lower bandwidths.

  2. Frank.
    No idea know about Silverlight but if Flash is used gracefully it may be able to assist low-bandwidth situations. In fact I heard it at the CS4 inauguration that Adobe had come up with something through which the Flash Player can detect the bandwidth and decide the quality. Not sure but looks like YouTube is making use of this technology.

    - Jerry

  3. Looks like Jerry's got the key! One change...It is not the Flash Player who does that automatically but its the Flash source that can help you do that. Sadly its available only with AS3.

    Does anybody know the Silverlight way of doing this?