In a recent update to one of our Admin interfaces (1 user), we added the following warning at the top, to remind the user that once they press the button, it can take several minutes to complete, and to avoid reloading the page and re-submitting, etc. (which has happened recently before the message was added)

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The user, however, told us that they don't get the point of saying "Please be patient", especially in a Business/Admin interface, and asked if it's implying that the person operating is "Impatient". The user also mentioned that this message isn't "helpful", and is an incriminating statement.

I believe I've seen "Please be patient" written in other Software applications, and I thought this was a standard message to display when a process can take long / unpredictable time.

Was the use of "Please be patient" a bad idea here?
How would you formulate the message above?

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    I agree that this is a "self-incriminating" statement by the software, but I would rephrase that as "pre-apologizing". You're attempting to paper over a known issue with words.
    – Riking
    Feb 22 at 7:02
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    Can you lock the UI after the user presses the submit button, and IF they try to reload/submit, THEN show the message? Don't prevent resubmission, show a warning like "Your previous request seems to still be processing, resubmitting might cause <very bad things>. The process causes some load on the database..." That way, they only see the message if they are being impatient. Feb 22 at 7:18
  • @KartikSoneji interesting idea/suggestion, but a lot of effort given that it is only for one user :)
    – Michael Lai
    Feb 22 at 22:59
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    @MichaelLai Well, that depends on a lot of factors. How important is the process? How important is appeasing the user? What is the worst that could happen if the process runs twice? As for the implementation, (assuming the process is browser-based), I think listening to the beforeunload event should be enough. Feb 23 at 18:39
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    The whole text in the dialog box is far too wordy. Start by removing the 'Please be aware...' You can cut the text in the dialog box by 50% ( including the 'please be patient' and not lose any meaning at all ). Reason: users try to read as little as possible.
    – PhillipW
    Feb 23 at 19:25

I think given the sample size of one, it doesn't make sense to apply the usual logic of research and testing within the population simply because the testing and validation is going to be 100% representative of the users (of course, it can change dramatically as well if this person is no longer in that role).

My opinion is that a phrase like this can be understood and interpreted in a number of ways, and in your case it was seen as something that implies the user is impatient. I think if an additional sentence like "the process might take longer than expected" or something that lets the user know that it may well take more time will help to prevent this particular way that the user might think.

But what really counts is to address the concern and impact this might have to the user behaviour, which hopefully you can do quite easily and also be able to test before having to make any major decisions.

I think that the starting point of bringing this to a user's attention is a good approach, but you might find more success with providing some additional context rather than looking at going down a different path. And hopefully you can just ask the user and make the changes required without too much fuss :p


I think "please be patient" was not the best idea. But not because the user felt this way. This is a typical case of offloading work from the developer to the user. This is usually really annoying for the user.

Needless to say: If the user is able to break things don't allow it to happen. Of course there are technical solutions that forbid resubmitting the form.

On a personal level, this is an interesting case: nobody likes to be patronized - especially by software. Other people designing such messages will never have this kind of direct feedback. We as designers/developers can learn from your case: double check your messages - not just the words, but also their intend might offend our users. Nobody who wants to sell Software can afford that.

On an organizational level I wonder: Did anyone bother telling this one user that this particular form takes long to submit? Creating this message is much more expensive than telling him. While it has only little or no effect on the users behavior. A technical solution is more costly, but definitely effective.

It is an economical decision. And in your particular case it might be worth to take the message approach: the user wastes an hour the month because of this flaw. You might need 16 hours to fix this. If you are paid equally, it is still a short sighted decision not to fix it technically. As soon as there are more hours wasted or your products reputation is at stake, management should not think twice and demand a technical solution.

I also want to give some empathy for your poor admin. His job is to work with some custom tool (functional but probably not aesthetically pleasant). There is this process that takes a really long time. He already wasted hours looking at this screen, fighting the urge to scream and to throw things because it is so sloow. He accidentally pressed the button twice before - it was cruel - he not only wasted even more time, but also something broke and HE was held responsible. He wishes it was faster. But no one has time to analyze the performance Problem. After all it's just one user - right? Now finally someone takes time to work on that process, but instead of improving performance or at least stop him from accidentally submitting the form twice, they rub it in his face: "it's your fault!" Given the history, that's the message. Telling the user to be patient is worse. Now it's not an accident anymore the message attacks him personally: "You are impatient". Admins in contact with users know what impatience is. They hate their users for their impatience - now he should be one of them? That is offending.

  • +1 a little bit of empathy is never out of place when it comes to helping people :)
    – Michael Lai
    Feb 23 at 22:56

Can you just say:

"Still working..."

and then remove the banner once the HTML is complete? even better replace it with:

"Report finished."

I agree that it's a bit incriminating as worded, but even when worded differently isn't helpful.

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