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I have a scenario in which the user goes through the steps of an installer. One of the steps is to setup the options for the program. The actual saving takes fractions of a second, however it may not be clear that clicking 'next' saves the settings.

Is it a bad idea to have a waiting dialog pop up that says "Saving Settings. Please Wait." with a wait signal (spinning circle kind of thing) for a second or two even though the save is done really fast?

Another option is to have a label saying that the settings are saved when clicking 'next', but to me it seems that it is not as "in your face" that the settings are getting saved.

Technically the settings get saved when they click 'back' as well. Should the same dialog be shown when clicking the back even though its less intuitive that a back button saves the settings on the current screen?

A third option I thought of is to have a Yes/No dialog ask if they want to save the settings if they changed, but I'm afraid that might be a little annoying.

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This might sound strange, but let your users wait. Faster isn't always better.

When you want your users to think there's something big happening, it is good to let them wait a little bit, even though it might only take a fraction of a second to perform the action.

One example I thought about (but couldn't find online) was that of an online mortgage calculator. The actual calculation only takes a second. When you show the result in a second, users might think it is too easy. You used to go to a bank where a bank employee would help you calculate your mortgage. The user might think; how could this possibly be done in just a second online?

“Let’s say you sit down at a restaurant, you order your food, and it comes out one minute later. Is that a good thing?” asks Braden Kowitz, design partner at Google Ventures (which has more than 250 portfolio companies including Uber, Slack, and Nest). “You start to wonder, ‘What’s going on here? Is something wrong in the kitchen?’”

Source: The UX secret that will ruin apps for you

Here's another article about why fast isn't always better.

Let Your Users Wait

Wait For It...

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You don't need to have save option for a separate step in your Wizard-like pattern.

The steps of the installer forms the entire interaction. In a user's mental model, all the settings are saved and applied in the very end of the process (with DONE or FINISH button, etc.).

Auto-save for the each step is OK, but you need not to expose it to a user.

As the opposite case, just imagine, all the steps in a Wizard-like setup process have SAVE button, along with BACK and NEXT ones.

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Have you ever thought of a similar waiting alert like Firefox's? Like an animation or related during the response. At least, I like to watch those cutie moves.

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