Is this is something that will go away when the 'coolness' wears off or is there really a grounded reason; like people experience it as freaky when you get an instant answer; that it gives the user a similar feeling like the uncanny valley?

I really get impatient from it, but maybe it works for 90% of the people - so I'm looking for more theory around it. Is there any theory about this?

6 Answers 6


I think it ties into the usability heuristic of always showing the user the status of the system. If someone on the other end is typing, that's an update to the person who is waiting.

Now if it's not really happening, that seems to be something of a dark pattern to keep the user engaged on the site vs. letting them get back to what they were doing and providing a ping when the system is ready again...


I feel like the closest thing is skeuomorphism or the Nielsen's one of the heuristics saying match between system and the real world

Whenever you chat with anyone, they take time writing something and the same thing is people are implementing with the bots, to convey this feeling that someone is literally on the other end, people are actually understanding every behaviour of the chat experience and applying whatever possible to make it a real experience.


I believe it's because the user would feel like their question is not well enough considered and therefore the answer would not be well thought through enough to be valid or complete even if it is.

It could be that the majority of users are not yet ready to fully accept or understand the growing capability of chatbots.


On one hand, it is probably related to the Uncanny Valley, as you already assumed.

On the other, it is about making the answer seem more meaningful, as implied in Rob Earle's answer.
This might seem surpsiring but there are some good reasons to make a user wait. These articles cover that topic quite well:

In my opinion the problem with this is not the wait time but rather the way it is expressed. Most users probably understand that a chat bot does not have to "type" the answer, thus it is obvious for the user that he is being "tricked" here.
Instead, they should have went for something like "answer is being calculated", which still "tricks" the user but he is given the feeling that his request is being processed in complex algorithms and thus the given response is meaningful.


Here are some valid reasons given by a blog post:


The primary reason why delays exist is so that users have enough time to read a message before another message is displayed.


A second important reason message delays are important, is to convey personality.

I agree that, in cases where a new message wouldn't immediately push down the previous one, making a person wait unnecessarily might be annoying.

If you want to find whether immediate answers in general give off an uncanny valley feeling, do some qualitative testing with a chatbot with no delays and see how people react. If you want to test whether wait times are annoying, test with a chatbot with standard-length delays.


"We eventually realized that while typing indicators are a nice touch, they’re basically a fancy wait mechanism to give users time to read. No one really missed typing indicators as long as the wait times were “right”; users only complained when they felt rushed to read messages." from https://chatbotsmagazine.com/11-more-best-ux-practices-for-building-chatbots-67362d1104d9

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