Status indicators and loaders are essential elements of user interface design. They communicate the status of a process or task to users, helping them understand what is happening and take appropriate actions. As a UX designer, it is important to follow best practices when designing status indicators and loaders to ensure they are effective and user-friendly. In this article, we will discuss 5 UX best practices to follow when designing status indicators and loaders.
5 tips to design effective loaders
Use clear and consistent language
The language used in status indicators and loaders should be clear and concise. Users should be able to understand the status of a process or task with just a glance. Using technical or ambiguous language can cause confusion and lead to user errors. Therefore, it is important to use simple and familiar language that is easy to understand.
Consistency is also important when it comes to language. The same words or phrases should be used consistently throughout the user interface to avoid confusion. For example, if the word "loading" is used to indicate a process that is in progress, it should be used consistently across all loaders related to processes that are in progress.
Provide contextual information
Status indicators and loaders should provide enough information to allow users to understand the context of the status. For example, a loader that simply says "loading" may not be helpful if the user does not know what is being loaded. Therefore, it is important to provide additional information such as the name of the process or task being loaded.
For example, instead of just saying "in progress," a status indicator could say "Printing: In Progress" or "Order #12345: Completed" or "Uploading: 75% Complete".
Providing contextual information can also help users prioritise their tasks. For example, if a user sees that a high-priority task is being loaded, they may choose to focus on completing that task before moving on to lower priority tasks.
Whenever possible include expected completion time: If a task or process has an expected completion time, including this information within the status indicator can help the user understand how long they may need to wait. For example, a status indicator could say "Downloading: Estimated Time Remaining - 5 minutes."
Use visual cues
Visual cues can be used to draw attention to important status indicators and loaders. For example, using animation to highlight a status change can help draw the user's attention to the updated status. Visual cues can also be used to indicate urgency or importance. For example, using a flashing icon or changing the colour of the status indicator or loader can indicate a high-priority task.
However, it is important to use visual cues sparingly and appropriately. Overuse of visual cues can cause distraction and reduce the effectiveness of the status indicator or loader.
Explain the delay
Loaders should not only show that a process is in progress, but also provide an explanation of what is happening. This is especially important when loading times are longer than usual, as users may become frustrated or confused if they do not understand what is happening.
For example, if a website is loading data from a remote server, the loader could display a message such as "Retrieving data from the server. This may take a few moments." This provides the user with an explanation of what is happening and reassures them that the website is working correctly.
Try to avoid showing loaders at all
While it is important to have a loader that effectively communicates the status of a process or task, the best loader is one that hardly appears at all. Long loading times can frustrate users and reduce engagement with the interface. Therefore, it is important to optimise loading times as much as possible.
One way to reduce loading times is to use caching and preloading. Caching can help store frequently used data so that it can be accessed quickly without needing to load it from the server each time. Preloading can help load data or resources in the background so that they are ready when the user needs them.
Status indicators and loaders are important design elements in user interfaces. Following best practices when designing status indicators and loaders can help ensure they are effective and user-friendly. By using clear and consistent language, providing contextual information, using visual cues appropriately, providing explanations within loaders, and optimising loading times, UX designers can create.