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I am currently designing a very complex enterprise application. I have done some research on loading states and came to the conclusion that loading states that should be displayed depends on scope, frequency, duration, and what the user is doing in the application.

My question is; should loading be consistent everywhere in the same application? Or can this change depending on the scenario and what the user is actually doing.

For example, a user navigating to page with a data table that has many records could see a skeleton screen loading. While in the same application, a user updates a profile page and then hits a "Save" button could see a loading spinner on the button instead of a skeleton screen.

I am of the personal opinion that loading states should change depending on what the user is doing and the expected amount of time for the application to respond. However I can see some might point out that this is NOT inline with usability heuristic of Consistency & Standards but I don't think it makes sense to use skeleton loading or a loading spinner everywhere no matter what.

Please let me know if there is any additional information where I could find best practices on this.

Thank you

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  • See if this answers your question ux.stackexchange.com/questions/148250/… Basically, you can have the skeleton or spinner set to always load. If the app is fast enough, users won't see anything, although sometimes they might see a FOUC. Thus, you can set a minimum of .5 to 1 seconds for fast loading pages to avoid FOUC, then use skeletons or spinners on all other pages as needed
    – Devin
    Aug 25, 2023 at 19:57

2 Answers 2

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Sometimes heuristics conflict with each other, and this is one of those cases. Getting "visibility of system status" right is more important here than using just one loader type for the sake of consistency.

If the system knows how long a loading will take, it should show an estimate with a determinate loader.

If the system can't estimate the loading time, it should use an indeterminate loader (like a spinner), or a skeleton screen.

Skeleton screens are a nicer experience when a page has a large amount of unloaded content - it gives the user more information on what to expect than a blank page with a spinner.

A spinner is good when the system is "thinking" on an update to existing content that's already on the page (as one example).

If you want to apply consistency and standards, you'll want each of these loader types to look and behave the same across your platform.

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In UX design, creating context-based solutions is crucial, and consistency plays a significant role not only in the UI but also in various scenarios. For example, defining loading states, like using skeletons for data-heavy UI screens and spinners for buttons, is indeed a great practice to enhance the user experience. 😊

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