The most discouraging progress bar around

06Dec11

Over the weekend, my wife and I created a customized photo book as a holiday gift for some of our family members. The process was labor-intensive and frustrating, but we somehow managed to complete the book. There was only one step left: entering our billing and shipping information.

After we clicked the button to start the checkout process, a progress bar appeared. As most progress bars are known to do, it began by showing 0% complete. At least a minute went by, and nothing had changed: still 0%. We were getting worried that the site had crashed, and there was no indication of how to start the checkout process again. Finally, the bar began counting upward, and we were prompted to enter the appropriate info.

Clearly, it’s not ideal to leave the customer staring at a progress bar for minutes on end, especially if it’s stuck on 0% the whole time. Instead, make sure the progress bar is accompanied by some sort of other status indicator that stays in motion. Heck, a flashing line of text that says “Working…” or “Please wait…” is better than nothing. Of course, the optimal solution is to ensure that your site responds so quickly that progress bars are irrelevant, but it always helps to have a backup plan to retain the customer’s trust and confidence during the transaction process.



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