Let people know that things are going to take a while by using a progress indicator. That being said, while the intention behind a progress indicator is good, the result can be bad. As Luke Wroblewski mentions, “Progress indicators by definition call attention to the fact that someone needs to wait. It’s like watching the clock tick down — when you do, time seems to go slower.” There is a good alternative to progress indicators: skeleton screens. These containers are essentially a temporarily blank version of the page, into which information is gradually loaded. Rather than show a loading indicator, use a skeleton screen to focus on actual progress and create anticipation for what is to come. This creates a sense that things are happening immediately, as information is incrementally displayed on the screen and people see that the application is acting while they wait.
Content is what provides value in most apps. Whether it’s a social feed, news updates, a to-do list or something more technical, like a system dashboard, content is why people are there! This is why it’s critical to focus on the content and remove unnecessary elements that do not support user tasks. Given their reduced attention span, users should be guided to the content they’re looking for, quickly. Content should be the interface.