I have an App that takes images from the users for a beauty competition.

I use Amazon EC2 to process the images and SQS to queue images being processed. Right after the user upload when they go to the next step the thumbnails are empty. The users have to refresh a few minutes later before the images are ready. (a url to the cropped thumbnail will exist in the database after my scripts finish processing them)

So the questions is: How can I make this more friendly for the users instead of them having to keep manually refreshing?

I think my design is kind of confusing the users and also looks like it's a broken app. Can someone point me to the right directions?

2 Answers 2


Why do they need to know what the server does? All they should need to know, is that the picture is ready soon. They should not have to press reload themselves, you could handle that for them.

You say there is an empty thumbnail while processing. That is a great start. All you need to do is to explain why it is empty, for example with a loading bar or spinning wheel (I tried to illustrate that below) and informative texts, and then update this thumbnail automatically when the processing is done.

Here is some inspiration:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • 1
    +1 "Why do they need to know what the server does?" :-) Apr 29, 2013 at 11:20
  • +1 Great answer with a focus on the user. Wish I could vote more than once.
    – JohnGB
    Apr 29, 2013 at 11:44
  • I think this is the way to go, but how should I go on about this? Use JQuery to poll the database server? And if the picture url exist then show the pic otherwise show the loading bitmap? Is this the most efficient?
    – momoterraw
    Apr 29, 2013 at 16:12
  • @Jangui: The platform of your app is unclear, and these are programming questions, not UX. (You could consider a poll that either replies with the finished image; or "not finished yet" after a delay, then causing a re-poll from your client. That way you can make the server reply as soon as it is ready, cutting into it's own delayed poll reply.) You could try posting what you have tried and why that did not work on stackoverflow.com, if you need help with that. Good luck!
    – JOG
    May 2, 2013 at 8:54

I completely agree that refreshing the page will give the user a negative user experience. The ideal scenario is to add some icon that will indicate the user that something is happening in the background.

A progress bar gives the user a feeling of "how much longer I need to wait" and a "it's almost done" feeling. If there are signs of this, the user can get irritated quick.

It shouldn't take so long to develop and your users will appreciate it.


  • I agree that it won't necessarily be easy to show a realistic estimation of progress server-side, but giving a best estimation of the remaining percentage will go a long way. Apr 29, 2013 at 12:09

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