Back in August, I switched to Chrome, when a Firefox update broke some of the extensions I was using. I was reluctant to switch at the time, but the breakage was annoying enough that I turned off Firefox (i.e. stopped launching it), and switched to Chrome for my personal browsing when on mine or my wife’s Mac at home, or when I need access to a personal bookmark while at work. (I keep IE’s bookmarks segmented to work-related links.)
The Firefox update glitches were most likely transient, and may have been peculiar to my installation, but even so I haven’t switched back…
The main reason: Startup performance.
I haven’t done any real measurements, so what I’m writing here is purely from the standpoint of my own personal perception but the feeling I get when launching Chrome is that it’s somewhat satisfyingly fast. The feeling I get when launching Firefox is that it’s slow to very slow to start.
While both browsers take longer to load the first time you start them after rebooting, and neither is enough faster than the other to win me over on that first-launch experience, Chrome feels significantly faster to launch the second time, while Firefox still feels like it’s pulling its feet out of the mud.
The fact of the matter may be that they’re equally fast to get me to the point where I can type onto the address bar. But feel is important too. The perception of good performance is a super-important part of the user experience.
What does this feel like if it’s a person, not a web browser?
Here’s a real-world example that everyone can identify with: If I say “Hello” to you, I expect that you’ll look at me pretty much right away, and then respond. If you look right away, and then take a second (one second) to say hi back, I probably won’t notice. But if you take that same one second to look at me in the first place, it doesn’t matter if you say hi right away or not – the feeling I get is that you’re either distracted, or you don’t care about our interaction.
In both cases, it takes roughly one second plus the time it takes to say the word hi, but the initial responsiveness makes a huge difference in how I feel about the interaction.