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45

I would not disturb the text editing area. You never know where the user is editing, so let her use her time in the box as she likes. Instead I would make it clear at all times how much time is left, and show that the submission will automatically be carried out when the time is out, by blinking the button when the time is running out. In the mockup below ...


24

You could just fade the text as a function of extra-time, Fade = F(extra_time), so at some time the text would just dissapeared. It is not forcing and not punishing for user. At the same time it is a soft indicator for other users of using the extra-time for this text. This feature could be used for engaging users and giving them a badges of "black", "gray" ...


18

As an extension to other answers, which describe good visual hints for writers: You could auto-submit the text in background when the time is up and indicate to the user that he/she is allowed to make minor changes, but all changes after the timeout will be marked. It's his/her decision when to finally submit. This way there is no hard limit. They may ...


8

This reminds me of the technique used by school teachers in the classroom when it's time to move the lesson on: "Please finish what you're doing and put your pens down." Students have a little time to dash out a sentence or two but not cause the class to wait 20 minutes. Provide an extra minute (or two) of time, and limit the amount of extra characters your ...


6

You could perhaps provide each user with "additional writing time" -- say 5 minutes a day maximum. If the user runs out of time, you can lock the field. The user can review what they have written and, if they notice any mistakes, can click "Use extra time" and use X minutes of their daily allowance. You could perhaps top up the allowance as the user ...


4

Note that it’s not like a formal exam where it’s important for fairness reasons that no-one gets more time. It’s just for fun and it wouldn’t be a problem if someone gets 1 minute more time. But then again, after this extra minute is over, I’d have the same problem if the user is still actively typing. To extend that, would it be a problem if ...


4

Progress bars do not give the user any time data—as others have illustrated, they are usually a horizontal bar that fills up as the operations are completed, and not necessarily even at a fixed rate. Countdowns have a fixed rate and a fixed number of units from which to calculate the required time to complete the operation. The other answers give some great ...


3

One of the key points of the pomodoro technique is that it asks you to pay full attention to the task at hand, if possible without distractions. A timer for this purpose shouldn't be more intrusive than strictly necessary, but still enable you to see at glance how much time you still have left. Looking at your suggestions: 1) A window, even if small, can ...


2

I like 3, and I think people would get used to it. In the days before W95, we used to have animated icons, and it was not a problem. The downside - with both of these - is that some people - like me - have the taskbar to autohide. This would mean it was not visible. I would suggest there might have to be another option of making it a small task-bar-like ...


2

If I understand your concept correctly, I would suggest a hybrid of 1 & 3, where: first the window appears before starting the countdown -- clock static @ 25:00. This will also have a button with the message "Minimize to System Tray" for the user to do the minimizing himself. This will make him aware of its presence and location thereafter. The clock ...


2

As @giraff mentioned in the comments, this is a question of context and purpose. If your countdown shows the time till the next Olympics, then of course you'll be using days (also months and years if necessary). Your goal is just to display the time in the clearest way, so it's best to use the same units the user usually uses. But in a social buying ...


2

IMO, the best approach is to keep a constant timer display on the top right corner of the text area. And to inform the user before the test begins that the content will be auto submitted.This will make sure all of your target audience will know that this is a timed typing scenario. If you just popup a little timer 30 seconds before, it will make no sense to ...


1

As a practicing 15-minute-drabble writer, I suppose let the user know at any time how much time they have left. When out in the park, we look at our watches every now and then. Later, when you are a more experienced writer, you automatically know when to check the time and when you need to finish your current sentence and do a quick review (when there is ...


1

Some ideas: Give continuous feedback during the authoring process about how much time is left. Show a progress bar, and consider changing something in the text area for folks who get focused (either font color or background could work). Gradual changes are less noticeable than flipping the color of the text with 5 minutes and 1 minute left. When you get ...


1

Countdowns can be great. But only if the amount of time it counts down from is fixed. Example: In my city more and more traffic lights get countdowns. They are great, so long as the time to green light is fixed. However, some traffic lights adapt to the flow of traffic. Which means that while you are waiting, a countdown may suddenly speed up or slow down. ...


1

My instinct is that countdowns work better, because they allow a user to feel more progress is being made at the earlier stages, whereas with a progress bar, they see only meagre gains. This is important, because it's at these earlier stages that users are more likely to back out. Users who have already committed time are less likely to quit, because of the ...


1

Good question! Countdowns are definitely good, since they start with a very optimal denominator say 100 seconds or 2 minutes, whereas progress bars really shows progression with a count or no count next to it. (What if the time span is more? Anti-pattern rather!) The beauty of countdowns are - It really scales in descending order (humans are much more ...



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