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Best Practices for Animated Progress Indicators

Visibility of system status is one of the most important principles in user interface design. Users want to feel in control of the system they’re using, which means they want to know and understand their current context at any given time, and especially when a system is busy doing work. A wait-animation progress indicator is the most common form of providing a system status for users when something is happening or loading. While an instant response from an app is the best, there are times when your app won’t be able to comply with the guidelines for speed. A slow response could be caused by a bad internet connection, or an operation itself can take a long time (e.g. install an update for OS). For such cases, in order to minimize user tension, you must reassure users that the app is working on their request and that actual progress is being made. Thus, you should provide feedback to the user about what is happening with the app within a reasonable amount of time.

To get a better understanding of how your UI designs can benefit from animated progress indicators, it will help to sketch out your (app) ideas. A few months back, Adobe introduced a new design and wireframing app called Experience Design (or Adobe XD), designed for creating interactive wireframes and user interfaces. The app is still in public beta, with features added on a regular base, and you can download and try it out for free. In this article, we’ll explore the main types of animated progress indicators and provide recommendations on when and how to use each type.

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