It seems that some basic elements take their position quite quickly:

enter image description here

and then others follow to form the final page:

enter image description here

update (Apr 2018)

I've noticed that youtube is also doing this...

enter image description here

  • 30
    Its called annoying the crap out of your user because your app loads terribly slow. While it mitigates the loading times, fast loading is crucial for user retention. If you need to resort to this, something is wrong. – Polygnome Jan 19 at 13:46
  • 23
    @Polygnome fast loading is of course important, but using these kinds of graphical tricks can often make loading seem significantly faster. And there are real limits to how fast you can actually load in many cases. – Christophe Jan 19 at 14:25
  • 3
    @Polygnome I would disagree. If you have to load a large volume of content, such as in Facebook's case (videos, images, ads), it's better for the user to look at something while it loads than a blank screen. – Alan Jan 19 at 14:58
  • 5
    @Alan Yes, its is better then looking at a blank screen. But it is still annoying as hell. Look at googles research regarding this topic, shaving even a few fractions of a second off your loading time can increase user retention drastically - that is why Google goes through great length to make their sites load fast. Some sites - and Facebook is one of them - are just bloated like hell, but they can get away with that because they are already market leader. – Polygnome Jan 19 at 15:28
  • @Polygnome today I've noticed that youtube is also using this practice... – tgogos Apr 25 at 8:42
up vote 29 down vote accepted

It's called a content placeholder or skeleton screens. This is a great way to focus attention on progress and content being loaded instead of wait times while the whole app is loading.


About Skeleton screens

Apple have incorporated skeleton screens into its iOS Human Interface Guidelines, calling it "launch images." It recommends showing an outline of the initial application screen without text or any graphical elements that may change.

enter image description here

About content placeholder :

Facebook App (and some other mobile app) made this strategy famous, making users think their apps loads faster.

enter image description here


Sources :

  • Hey ! I Added skeleton-screen and content-loading to your question – Brice Jan 19 at 13:46
  • If those are essentially synonyms why add both tags? – Matt Jan 19 at 20:55
  • 1
    They are not. Skeleton refer to UI elements loaded before content, placeholders are dummy contents displayed while real content is loading. – Brice Jan 20 at 0:41
  • 4
    The real question is, do we really need those tags? – Andrew T. Jan 20 at 7:11
  • Aren't they helpfull for search ? Also, question author asked for it – Brice Jan 20 at 20:49

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.