Why Time is the new UX challenge ?

UX, UI and Developers combine their talents to create new and pragmatic experiences for users. Thinking about the geography of the elements, creating fascinating animations or developing the most fluid interfaces are their daily lives.

In recent years, Material Design has improved processing rates and standardized design. Google’s guidelines are now replicated to saturation. The emotion disappears from the Experiences Users in favor of the efficiency.
Breaking with this efficiency / emotion antagonism, great references (Shazam, Trainline, Uber, Deliveroo, Snapchat …) rely on an original experience reinforced by a thorough knowledge of the time of users.

“The very high speed. Upon purchase of the ticket. Find and pay your tickets on our site in less time than it takes to lose patience on a regular site. That’s about 58 seconds. “- Trainline

To improve conversion rates, time and emotion are major assets. Let’s dive into the UX-Time Perception.

Step 1 : How to control the Flow ?

Tetris :The Grandmaster Flow

Tetris is undoubtedly the most obvious illustration of Flow. The satisfaction caused by the alignment of the bricks and the passage to the next level captivate the players for hours.
Similarly, the phenomenon of series triggers this same behavior. Now, Netflix allows you to watch in one sprint the entirety of a new season. Fans can then indulge in binge watching without restraint. Again, Flow is in action.
As a UX Designer, we can leverage Flow to create original and engaging pathways.

What is the UX Flow?

The UX Flow is the maximum state of engagement of a user in an activity. He is in a state of total concentration, commitment and satisfaction. The Flow was popularized by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his best-selling Flow.

For example, with the button “Buy in 1-click” and its smooth navigation, Amazon masters flow. So, as a customer, hardly has we finished an order that we want to make a second! This is the flow applied to e-commerce.

Buying Path “1-click” on Amazon

Video games, e-commerce are the fields of action of Flow. It remains to build paths to access Flow.

How to improve your Flow?

The 3 constant time constants of Nielsen allow to improve the Flow:

0.1 second: instant reaction of the system
1.0 second: continuity of the user’s thinking
10 seconds: maximum user attention

These response time limits from an interface to a user can keep the user’s attention on an activity.
Thus, Trainline simplifies the purchase of train tickets by dividing this activity into simple tasks that give satisfaction to the user.
I choose my destination (10s) and then my dates and times (10s). I choose a ride (10s) and I pay with my pre-registered card (10s). And if I want to cancel my ticket, 10 more seconds are enough for me.

Train ticket reservation — Trainline

These stages are punctuated by animations. The user, reassured and happy, reinforces his commitment to service.

Step 2 : How to digitalize the conversation ?

A large number of feedbacks punctuate the exchanges between two individuals: facial expressions, sighs, look, words. Eyes and ears capture these signals. They are an integral part of the conversation. The chat bots try to reproduce these feedbacks.
Thus, when in 2001, Space Odyssey, HAL goes out and decides not to interact with the human, the astronaut panic …

The man facing the machine — 2001, Odyssey of space

Snapchat & Deliveroo: Two Approaches of the Conversation

Snapchat uses a Bitmoji to represent the interlocutor. The avatar goes up and down depending on whether the person reads or writes. Thus, the user gets an immediate feedback during the conversation. He is reassured and will wait for the answer of his interlocutor.

Deliveroo pace the user experience with regular notifications on the progress of the command: “More than a few moments to finalize your order”, “Our deliveryman has just retrieved your order” …

The display of the delivery time reassures the user. He can also follow his order live. A notification informs him when the driver is approaching. Thus, the experience is prolonged by the emotion linked to the expectation of his meal.

Feedback rhythms the Time of the User Experience by reproducing the conditions of a conversation with a real person.

Step 3 : How to transform expectation into experience ?

Waiting is an emotion (positive)

Who was not annoyed by a delay of a few minutes while waiting for his train or his subway? Almost everybody. And who is willing to wait an hour in the cold to eat a burger? A lot of people, for sure!
Take the example of Le Camion qui fume in Paris. This foodtruck sublimates the wait by promising to taste one of the best burgers in the world and it’s in Paris! Amazing !

Monday evening: people waiting for their burger
Inspire desire increases the possibilities of creating an original waiting experience.

Design time as an emotion

The perception of time is also related to emotions. Promoting a service or product with high added value engages the user in an experience of waiting.
Moreover, a user unlocks on average 150 times a day his mobile: to consult an SMS, to read a mail, to consult a notification … So many moments that offer to the designers the possibility of developing an intimacy between the user and his service.

The emotional qualities of the product affect the quality of the overall experience — Don Norman.

For example, Uber transforms the control of a taxi. Now, it’s immediate, reliable and simple. The user checks the available vehicles with their time of arrival on his screen. He can follow the driver on a map with his arrival time. Notifications announce the next actions to be carried out by the user. The sedan arrives and the race continues. The experience is total and with high added emotional value.

Step 4 : How to illustrate UX Time ?

Variation of the perception of time is a well-known phenomenon by the runners. Running on a mat in an air-conditioned room proves to be an often more painful experience than running in the forest on a cold January day! Why ?

My mindset when I’m running indoor…

Divert user’s attention
Outdoor, the athletes can project on various visual cues. Indoor, they don’t but they run. That is a mental paradox.
In every situation, the human brain expects a precise representation of time.

As a designer we must learn how to divert the user’s attention with the right indicator. For each situation, the user waits for a typical response. These are cognitive patterns on which we can not influence.
On the other hand, as a designer, we can work on the paths and objects of representations. Steven C. Seow categorizes time indicators as follows:

UX-Time Opportunities

To conclude, with the development of Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Phygitis, the perception of time by users will become a central subject of the User Experience.

Take away

Check the flow 
Take time for a discussion
Waiting is also an experience
Illustrate Time

“May the UX be with you …”


Powers of ten, Charles and Ray Eames
Flow, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Emotional Design, Don Norman
Designing and Engeneering Time in Software, Steven C. Seow