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These two ideals are both coupled and also in some degree of tension with each other, and the right balance must be struck according to the requirements of the product. Consumer products generally tend to favor intuitiveness over efficiency wherever there’s tension, because it’s important not to drive new users away by confusing them at the outset or providing them with overly complicated “Getting Started” guides. But products that are made for daily intensive use—an internal call center support application or a customer-facing CRM tool—should generally err on the side of efficiency, since the first couple of weeks using the tool are less important than the subsequent two years, and users of such applications are willing to undergo a bit of training.

Because the application wasn’t delivered through a web browser but rather was deployed as desktop software that had no discrete page states like websites do, we initially didn’t think to include a “Back” button such as those found in web browsers. Though the new application broke free of the page-based constraints of the browser and offered improved, more fluid means of browsing content, users who were accustomed to the original eBay experience frequently had the experience of feeling trapped in some corner of the application without knowing how to go back.

Consistent, valuable responsiveness builds a sense of confidence in the user and thereby improves engagement, allowing him to focus on achieving his goals rather than fretting over whether each of his actions taken toward that end have been effective. Performance An application’s performance—that is, how well it handles the strains of processing, display, data traffic, and other technical considerations—can strongly affect the experience of using it. Performance issues can cause the application to stall and lag, and for certain operations to take a disruptively long time to complete.

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