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2:10 Provide Feedback When Users Must Wait

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2:10 Provide Feedback When Users Must Wait

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


General User Experience


Provide users with appropriate feedback while they are waiting.


If processing will take less than 10 seconds, use an hourglass to indicate status. If processing will take up to sixty seconds or longer, use a process indicator that shows progress toward completion. If computer processing will take over one minute, indicate this to the user and provide an auditory signal when the processing is complete.

Users frequently become involved in other activities when they know they must wait for long periods of time for the computer to process information. Under these circumstances, completion of processing should be indicated by a non-disruptive sound (beep).


  • Bouch, A., Kuchinsky, A., & Bhatti, N. (2000). Quality is in the eye of the beholder: Meeting users’ requirements for internet quality of service. Proceedings of CHI 2000, 297-304.
  • Meyer, J., Shinar, D., & Leiser, D. (1990). Time estimation of computer ‘wait’ message displays. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 130.
  • Smith, S.L. & Mosier, J.N. (1986, August). Guidelines for designing user interface software. The MITRE Corporation Technical Report (ESD-TR-86-278).

Good Example:

This display not only shows where users are in the steps of the process, but also provides the level of completion for the process.


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