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Austin Blade
Austin Blade

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Purposely showing loading animations when not necessary?

I've had some clients ask to purposely show a custom loading animation for their website...even though the load time is fast enough to not warrant a loading animation. πŸ€” This means the user is presented the loading animation even when the content has already loaded. Now, I'll agree that some of the loading animations are cool, and I gain some amount of pleasure from watching them. But personally, I like having the data I'm looking for presented to me ASAP. I get the argument for wanting to show that animation to an extent...I mean some do give a cool "vibe" to a site. However, when I see a long loading animation, I feel like a site isn't very performant and that gives me bad "vibes".

What do you all think? πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ Do you think it's a good idea or a good user experience to provide a loading animation when it's not even necessary? Personally, I'm not a fan. While animations are cool, I believe every second a user is on your site is precious and prefer to use every second to get the desired message across.

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ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

The question though is how you determine what’s β€˜fast enough’. Sure, the site probably loads almost instantly on a fast broadband connection. But what about on 3G with a weak signal? Or a traditional satellite link? Or even just a heavily congested local network?

The issue with not showing a loading screen β€˜unless you need it’ is that by the time you know you need it, you already should have been showing it. This isn’t just an argument for websites though, but any time you don’t have a good estimate of how long something will take. Sure, copying a few tiny files may be near instant, but you should still show a progress dialog in case something happens that means it isn’t, and the same applies for the loading screen for a website.

However, I would strongly advocate for two specific things:

  1. Don’t make the loading screen super-fancy. Ideal situation it should need no JS at all except to hide it once everything is ready, and it shouldn’t need almost any CSS. This is important just so that it doesn’t make the site significantly bigger.
  2. It should be directly embedded in the document itself. There’s no point if the user has to wait for the loading screen to load unless their network latency is really bad.

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