Progress indicator in mobile apps usually tell the user on how far has he reached while going through your app. If I explain what happens in the absence of progress indicators, there would be lack of direction. A user would not know that the operation is in progress and might think that the system is hung. They won’t have any idea of how long they would be waiting, something users hate to do and then you have to be ready to lose them.
Progress indicators are important as it gives an idea to the user of how many screens he has to swipe through. It makes the tour more engaging by abstaining the unnecessary wait. A user want to feel in control of the system they are using. Here, a progress indicator is the best way to show the system status to tell the user that something is happening. The main focus should be providing feedback on what is happening that too within a reasonable time. We shall now go on to have a look at the various types of progress indicators and their use:
Give Them Feedback
Apps usually respond quickly but there are times when it does not work with a good speed and causes delay. Slow loading time is one of the biggest reason for this delay. In this situation a user must be assured that be app is working on their request and progress is being made. Here, notifying the user that the app might require more time to load is a good option. This doesn't leave the user to guess about the happenings of the app and it keeps them updated on what's happening withing the app.
More Interaction? Give Them Immediate Feedback
The wait time for the user begins as soon as he take an action and that's the time to win their heart by providing immediate feedback. When an app doesn't notify the user on his action, he keeps on trying again and again. Extra taps happens due to lack of feedback which leaves a bad impression on the user resisting him to use the app for the next time.
Kinds of Progress Indicators
- Determinate loader indicates how long the operation will take place by displaying the progress and the part remaining.
- Indeterminate progress indicator indicates that the user has to wait till something finishes. It doesn’t show any progress bar and the users have no clue on how long it will take.
- Looped animation is basically the graphic animation which gives feedback but it doesn't give any information on how long the user have to wait.
- Percent done animation are the most informative type of indicator. It accurately tells the user of the current progress, how much has been done and how much is left. Percent done animations are beneficial when the loading time is more than 10 seconds as it keeps the user patient.
- Progressive animation tell the user how long an action is taking but they are not always accurate. You can disguise small delays in your progress bar by starting the progressive animation slower and allow it to move faster as it approaches the end.
- Creative progress indicators can reduce a user’s perception of time. If there is something more interesting in an app while a user is waiting, it makes users pay less attention to the wait itself. To ensure people don’t get irritated while waiting, offer them a distraction. May be something like this:
- The step loader is showing the number of steps. Though a user cannot predict or guess the time of each of these steps but it helps him to form an estimate.
If you can't reduce the wait time, you can definitely make it bearable by accepting any of the above type in your next mobile UX design. But never go for a static progress indicator because it doesn’t offer any information on what is happening which might lead to a user lose.