The Use Of “Loading…” Spinners On Forum Pages Is Downright Agonizing. Here’s Why.

One of the most frustrating things to experience when surfing the web is to click on a link and wait for the page to open, only to see a “spinner” indicating that the content still needs to load. This is like listening to a public speaker with a bad case of hiccups. It makes for an uncomfortable user experience, especially on a forum where the process repeats itself for every. single. page. view. It quickly becomes painful.

This technique is known as “asynchronous loading” and there are times when it makes sense. For example, it is commonly used to load recent Tweets from Twitter onto an external site. The main page loads, and then a small amount of extra content is fetched from Twitter. This seems reasonable.

It is almost impossible to believe that any web programmer would condone the use a “loading…” spinner for ALL of the content on a normal page load. But it happens. Several forum platforms utilize this approach, although it is not clear why.

Perhaps faster page loads are the goal but in our experience, asynchronous pages take longer to load than most Ninja Post pages. Besides, who cares about a fast load time if it ends with a jolt to the user? Ninja Post is designed to make forum pages load quickly, not to get the user’s hopes up by displaying a series of “still loading” spinners that ultimately make for an agonizing user experience.

One example of a forum that loads content like this is from the ESPN forums. Try opening this thread, for example. We grabbed some screen caps below to show how painful it is just to view one thread.


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The 2 Second Drill – How Fast Is Your Forum?

One of our core values is that to provide forum software with the best user experience. Part of providing a fantastic user experience is to make sure forum pages load instantaneously. Nearly half of all web users believe web pages should load in 2 seconds or less. We strive to beat this benchmark and routinely test our forums. We use tools like Page Speed Online by Google, YSlow from Yahoo!, and’s Website Speed Test, among others.

Below is a screen cap from a recent test using Pingdom, for one of our most popular sites, the forum. We display seven images from the photo gallery, the 50 most recent threads, and preview snippets for each thread, all in less than a second. 738 milliseconds to be exact.

forum speed test results

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Ninja Post: The Usain Bolt Of Forum Software

We are fanatical about speed. Why? Software that is fast and responsive—especially on the web—makes for a better user experience. When pages load quickly, users are more likely to stick around and participate. This is one of the ways that we combat participation inequality.

Forum software can be a resource hog. If you’re hosting your own forum, it can slow down (or sometimes crash) the rest of your site. Since Ninja Post is a cloud-based service that integrates with your URL, it not only ensures that your forum keeps moving quickly but it frees up resources on your own server to ensure that other aspects of your site load rapidly too.

Instead of saying that Ninja Post is insanely fast, we say that it is Usain-ly fast.

Usain Bolt

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