"C’mon, already!!" Admit it. You’ve barked those words—and maybe something less printable—at your computer more than once while waiting for some app to start. Don’t make your users experience the same aggravation.
- Don’t prevent users from using parts of your application that are ready.
- Do tell users if a slow startup is a one-time occurrence.
Don’t Prevent Users from Using Parts of Your Application That Are Ready
How many times have you found yourself in that painful situation where you desperately need just one piece of information from an email message, but for some reason your email application decides that it will take its own sweet time to fully load all the extended features, perform maintenance, and make a trip to the clouds to see if there might be some update?
Many solutions need not be fully loaded before users can begin experiencing, interacting, or consuming. Viewing a video on the Web is a simple example; users can start their experience without waiting for the entire movie file to be downloaded. If parts of your application are already functional before the entire application is loaded, don’t prevent users from accessing whatever is ready. Whenever possible, arrange for the most common functionality (common to the user, that is) to load first.
Do Tell Users If a Slow Startup Is a One-Time Occurrence
Some applications have unavoidable delays that exist only when the app runs the first time. In these instances, inform the user that this is a one-time delay. A simple line of descriptive text, such as "ABC application is loading required components for the first time," will suffice (see Figure 3). This technique is effective because it gives users enough information (specifically, a reasonable explanation for delay) to build user tolerance. This is much like explaining that you were late because you were unfamiliar with a new location.
Figure 3 If your application suffers from slow loading during "cold starts," tell users to expect this delay, and assure them that it happens only once.