I am designing an app for an online taxi booking portal. The workflow is designed in a way in which the users must wait for 120 secs for booking to get confirmed. While the customer is waiting for the booking to be confirmed as an experience designer I suggested that we display a timer in secs or minutes but my senior wants to display something like this http://astretchyhand.com/ or any other flash game with the countdown timer.

I feel as an app that provides service to the customer it is deflecting from its purpose and does not have a polished professional outlook. Senior feels that it is necessary as the customer has to wait for 120 secs let him be engaged in this game, which according to me isn't necessary because if we have displayed a countdown timer (like we do at traffic signals) customer would understand that the service he has requested is working at the 120 sec countdown timer and if he has anything else to do let him engage because he will come back to check the app after the timer has expired.

What would be the right call to action over here?

Should I just provide a timer or should I provide a flash game and a timer?

  • 4
    Why do you have to keep the user engaged for this time? Why not notify them by e-mail, or push-state notification, or SMS, or something similar? Two minutes is a pretty long time to wait. Design an asynchronous service, rather than a synchronous one.
    – CJF
    Mar 18, 2014 at 6:35
  • @CJ Franken :After the 120 secs timer the user is informed if a driver has been assigned to him or not. Post which if he has a driver assigned he is shown trip and driver details, if unsuccessful booking then he is asked to wait for a minute while in the background the system tries to assign him a driver.
    – Jezza
    Mar 18, 2014 at 6:41
  • I feel like a timer only suggests to the user that they have to take some action. Why not explain that you will let them know within two minutes if a driver has been found. Then the reason for the timer is explained. Reducing confusion should be your first choice in UX.
    – KMSTR
    Mar 18, 2014 at 7:26
  • HI @KMSTR the app will display a text message which will explain that he has to wait for driver to be assigned to him
    – Jezza
    Mar 18, 2014 at 8:24

4 Answers 4


Jef Raskin says (in his awesome book "The Humane Interface")

Your Time Is Sacred.

Which I interpret as "User's Time Is Sacred" and this doesn't mean that long, computation-oriented tasks should be stigmatized. Your app needs 120 seconds to do the job and that's that's ok.

My friend and UX designer @fdonelli once told me

Until now, we struggled to make users spend the maximum amount of time on our apps, because we thought that was the best way to monetize it (ad-driven economic models). From now on, we're going to struggle to save the maximum amount of user's time. Because users will pay for it.

From his point of view, users pay to save time, and I guess this is the main purpose of making an application that automates a (part of a) workflow (like, say, calling a taxi).

So, what's the point of catching user's attention while he can do something else while the machine works for him?

I totally agree with the answers you've got so far: make the task asynchronous and tell the user that a push notification will arrive soon (like, say, in about two minutes). Let the user free, he will appreciate it.

Reassure the user giving him the ability to check the progress at every moment and, reasonably often, provide meaningful and consistent progress updates: never lose his trust (he should never wonder whether things are getting done or not).

Make it fun by using a tone that announces the wait in a positive way (but without losing consistency with your company's tone). Depending on how things are presented, a two-minute waiting can be felt as two decades or two seconds. The guys at MailChimp have made a great job on message tones.

Hope this helps you getting your boss convinced :)


A hard timer may result in a frustrating user experience. Especially if the user needs to make repeated bookings or if the attempt is repeatedly unsuccessful. Taxi services typically have busy periods (Friday night, big game etc.) where service is all but unavailable thus the app should relay this message immediately.

With the wait, users are likely to switch to a different task altogether so I understand the need to keep them glued to the screen. A timed mini-game does not guarantee that the user won't switch to another tab. Therefore CJ's suggestion for notifications (and asynchronous service) should be strongly considered.

Perhaps you can inform the user of what is happening in the backend during the wait, e.g.

  • Finding nearest available taxi
  • Taxi found
  • Sending details to driver
  • I agree. @Vinoth I vaguely remember an app that had these notifications and had something like a bobblehead figure that reacted to touch or movement. If you could find something amusing like that that is a little more sophisticated so it's more suited for your app you can also make your boss happy. Mar 18, 2014 at 8:20
  • @Paul I would actually not want to display any game because I feel that its not needed at this point. It does not convey the tone of the company. As of now we're displaying that he the system is assigning a driver while he waits for the timer to conclude
    – Jezza
    Mar 18, 2014 at 9:41
  • @andrewthong we're providing the user with information that the system is searching and assigning a driver to him. I would like to know would we need a lite game because I simply feel it does not convey the tone of the company.
    – Jezza
    Mar 18, 2014 at 9:42

None of the user would like to wait for 2 mins, let him do whatever he wants to do. You can run the service in background and notify him after completion (no matter if it fails/pass).You can probably give a info message like " Your request is in process, it will take 2 min.. You will shorty get a SMS"


Why don't you provide some useful information while they are waiting. Look at your FAQs and present them -- maybe they will not get asked so frequently!


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