We have developed the interface of a web application which lets the user manage some remote equipments for a limited amount of time. Basically, it is used in this way:
- User A reserves the hardware.
- When the hardware is ready, User A is redirected to the control view.
- When a predefined amount of time ellapsed, the user is automatically redirected out of the control view and into the initial reserve view.
As of now, the control view has this layout:
Please notice that:
- The remaining time before the user is thrown out is shown on the left at the beginning of the page.
- The number of hardware items to control can vary. Thus, sometimes the user will need to scroll up and down.
The problem is that some test users are complaining that while working with the hardware they often scroll the page down, losing sight of the time left. Sometimes the time expires without them noticing, and then they are drawn out of the view without having been able to finish their work.
From a usability perspective, what would be the best way to display such a timer, or to convey the information more effectively?
Some alternatives we have considered:
Keeping the timer at the same place, but "fixed" to the screen (it would move down when the user scrolls down). Problem is, it may obstacle the view of some items if it is drawn over them, or be distracting/annoying.
Somehow making the user more aware of the fact that the timer might be running out by changing the background when there is little time left, or displaying some kind of pop-up alert.