For example, we have a search where users will be searching from a finite amount of content that they have generated. If they search for something too specific and get 0 results there would be no content displayed. Is it problematic to show skeletons of content if it's possible that they get zero results and the skeletons just disappear?

2 Answers 2


If it takes more than one second for the system to return an answer to a user, even if the answer is "No results found", you should display some kind of progress indicator. A skeleton screen is considered an alternative to an indeterminate loading indicator (like a spinning wheel animation), vs. an alternative to the content that is being loaded (though it gives the user more information on what to expect.)

Consistency is best in this case - users should always see the same indicator when the system is performing the same task. Thus, you don't have to worry about a skeleton screen "duping" a user into believing that results have been found. Rather, like a spinning wheel, it is telling the user that information is still being retrieved. The indicator belongs to the loading task, rather than the results.


I doubt there is a hard rule for this so I would offer my judgment. People like seeing work is being in process and seeing more complex things gives the feel of greater work being done. For example, there was a study on some travel website loading screens. Surprisingly, people evaluated the version with several messages telling what database is being checked (which took more time than a simple loader) as doing a better search. Not the certainty but I would advocate for more complex skeletons. Not the fire but nice to see the progress :)

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