I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness.
Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.
John Gruber comments:
One of the confounding aspects of software today is that our computers are literally hundreds — maybe even a thousand — times faster than the ones we used 20 years ago, but some simple tasks take longer now than they did then.
Too few product managers treat speed as a feature. There should be tests that make sure software stays fast (or becomes faster) when new features are addede.
Hugo, which is powering this site, is a positive example, advertising itself as “the world’s fastest framework for building websites”.
Lead developer Bjørn Erik Pedersen said in an interview with the New Dynamic:
I try to play the zero-sum game when adding new features: The processing time added by the new feature will have to be compensated by improvements in others […].
Performance bottlenecks show up in the most surprising places, so you have to benchmark. Performance gains and losses come from smaller accumulated changes over time. And speed matters. Try Hugo’s server with livereload and you will see.