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The Doherty Threshold: Your Key to Supercharging Engagement

Dive into the world of the Doherty Threshold and learn how to create lightning-fast interfaces that keep users engaged

Welcome to another exciting blog post on UX design!

Today, we’ll dive into a fascinating concept called the Doherty Threshold and explore how it can revolutionise modern UX design.

So, whether you’re a seasoned UX designer or just curious about creating delightful user experiences, this article is for you!

What is the Doherty Threshold?

What is the Doherty Threshold

The Doherty Threshold, named after Walter J. Doherty, is a concept that emphasises the relationship between user satisfaction and system responsiveness.

In simpler terms, it explores how the speed and responsiveness of an application or interface can impact the user experience.

It states that users are more productive and satisfied when a system responds quickly to their actions.

The Doherty Threshold can be summed up in this simple phrase:

“The faster the computer responds, the more enjoyable and productive the user experience becomes.”

Explainer video for The Doherty Threshold:

Typing Speed and Response​

Imagine using a text editing application that lags behind your typing speed.

Each time you pause to wait for the system to catch up, frustration creeps in, and the overall experience suffers.

However, when the system keeps up with your typing, allowing for a seamless flow, the experience becomes a joy.

Scrolling and Navigation

Scrolling and Navigation​

When scrolling through a webpage or navigating an application, a slow or stuttering response can quickly dampen the user experience.

Conversely, smooth and fluid transitions enhance the feeling of control and engagement.

Real-Time Interactions

Real-Time Interactions

Consider video conferencing or collaborative applications.

If there’s a noticeable delay between participants’ actions and the system’s response, it can hinder communication and disrupt the flow of interaction.

On the other hand, real-time responsiveness fosters a sense of connection and improves the overall experience.

The Doherty Threshold and UX Design

The Doherty Threshold plays a significant role in modern UX design practices.

Today’s users have high expectations for seamless and fast experiences across various devices and platforms.

Here’s how UX designers leverage the concept to enhance user experiences:

Performance Optimization

User Data Analysis​

UX designers strive to optimize the performance of applications by minimizing response times and improving system speed.

Through efficient coding practices, caching, and optimizing assets, designers aim to provide a seamless and fluid experience.

Feedback and Progress Indicators

Feedback and Progress Indicators​

To alleviate user frustration caused by delays, modern UX design incorporates feedback mechanisms and progress indicators.

These visual cues reassure users that the system is working and their actions have been acknowledged, reducing anxiety and enhancing the perceived responsiveness.

Usability Testing

Usability Testing

UX designers conduct usability testing to identify and address any potential bottlenecks or areas where the system might lag.

By analyzing user feedback and observing interactions, designers gain valuable insights into how to improve the system’s response time and overall user experience.

Prioritizing Key Interactions

Prioritizing Key Interactions​

Designers focus on optimizing the response time of critical interactions, such as form submissions or important task completions.

By prioritizing these interactions, designers ensure that users are not hindered by slow system responses during crucial moments.


The Doherty Threshold offers a valuable perspective on the interplay between system responsiveness and user satisfaction.

Understanding this concept allows UX designers to create experiences that are not only visually appealing but also fast, seamless, and enjoyable.

By optimising performance, providing feedback, and prioritising key interactions, designers can push the boundaries of user experience and meet the high expectations of modern users.

So, next time you’re designing a digital product or working on an application, keep the Doherty Threshold in mind.

Strive for that perfect balance between system responsiveness and user satisfaction, and watch as your users become immersed in a world of seamless interactions and delightful experiences.

Want more Laws of UX? Check out our 9 laws of UX post here.

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Inspiration, resources and knowledge for digital product designers

Inspiration, resources and knowledge for digital product designers