No matter what digital platform a user is on, progress indicators tend to be a major cause of tension for the user. Progress indicators are also known as “visibility of system status” and essentially indicate to the user how far along is a certain task. Although the way the progress indicator is designed can be the critical for the user experience and thus should be a primary focus for UX design agencies.
Choosing the Right Visual
The first step in the ux ui research for choosing which type of progress indicator to use is essentially based on the time length of the task. The two most common progress indicators are spinners and progress bars.
Spinners are primarily used for short time periods. The sweet spot for the time length of a spinner is about four seconds. It is important to note that spinners just notify the user that the task is in process but does not provide clear feedback on the length of period remaining. For this reason, if you have a spinner that goes longer than four seconds, you may create a sense of irritation in the user.
Progress bars on the other hand show the relative length of time remaining in the task. This visual provides the user an incentive to wait and be more patient for the system to complete. In order to effectively use progress bars, ux design services need to make sure the animation in the bar is gradual and at a consistent pace; inconsistency and long pauses will create a sense of frustration for the user.
Another decision to make about progress bars is deciding between a “percentage done” and “time remaining” indication. As a general rule, percentage done should be used when the progress bar is less than a minute and a time remaining when it is over a minute.
In order to ease the potential frustration of the user, providing frequent and truthful feedback is key. Keeping the user up to date on what happened, what is happening, and what will happen is important in order for the user to know the process is still underway and in a way that is efficient.
UX services should always have the goal of reducing the uncertainty in the user, continually offering a reason for the user to wait, and reducing the user’s perception of time. Thus, it is critical for ux designers to use determinate rather than indeterminate progress bars. Determinate indicate to the user how long the operation will take whereas indeterminate does not have any indication of length of time.
User experience research services indicate that waiting for certain processes on systems to load or download can cause high tension and frustration in the user. Creating progress indicators that effectively notify the user and keep them up to date on what is going on internally within the computer or mobile device allow the user to have a sense of ease in a traditionally stressful process.