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Why progress bars can make you feel better

The labour illusion

We like to see real work being done. This is best shown in restaurants where customers can see chefs working in the kitchen. It builds anticipation and means we enjoy the end product more.

The effect is the same in the digital world. Search engines that appear transparent about what they are doing in the background are perceived as providing better quality, regardless of whether the results are, in fact, better.

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Why progress bars can make you feel better

Why progress bars can make you feel better

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191205-why-progress-bars-can-make-you-feel-better

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Rotating egg timers

The spinning wheels, turning egg timers, and moving progress bars we regularly see on our screens when using our electronic devices are often deceptive.

They are generally there to give the impression that something is happening and that we are not waiting in vain.

The labour illusion

We like to see real work being done. This is best shown in restaurants where customers can see chefs working in the kitchen. It builds anticipation and means we enjoy the end product more.

The effect is the same in the digital world. Search engines that appear transparent about what they are doing in the background are perceived as providing better quality, regardless of whether the results are, in fact, better.

The innovation of the progress bar

Designers are not trying to give an accurate representation of time, but rather an experience.

Facebook redesigned its loading animation. They noticed that their custom animation of three lines increasing in size from left to right, led users to associate a slow service with Facebook, compared to the spinning wheel, which users associated with their device or their internet being slow.

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