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I have a web application that rates a person's performance: there are a number of questions regarding the person, where each question is a rating (poor to excellent) represented by radio buttons, and a text field for comments on that rating. The questions are broken across several pages since there are quite a few of them, so that the user doesn't have one giant vertical-scrolling page.

Every action during this rating process saves to the database: you click a radio button and it saves; enter comments, then it saves; navigate between the different pages of the questions, it saves then too.

The application uses toast messages for various notifications, including saving. Previously, we wanted users to know that every action was saving, so that they wouldn't worry about losing any of their work. So it was displaying a toast message every time the application performed a save. This proved to be very annoying because it was just constantly throwing toast messages at the user.

Recently, it was changed to only show the saving notifications when navigating between different pages of questions. This is a lot less invasive to the user. However, now new users will not necessarily know that every action saves their work, and that they will never lose any of it.

So I'm wondering what the optimal solution is to be as non-invasive, yet as informative as possible. Is either one of my "ends" preferred, or is there some "medium" amount of notifications that could be shown? Is there some other method that may work well (e.g., text instructions stating that every actions saves)?

  • Is it necessary to tell the user at all? What is gained by the user by being told, or what does the user lose if they don't immediately know things are saved? If you're rating performance, is there a progress somewhere that would imply the action? – Evil Closet Monkey Jan 14 '15 at 21:33
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If everything really gets saved always (including things like write in text box, then hit the Back or Close button), then the user doesn't need to know when each save occurs. You only have to educate the user that save is automatic; don't worry about it. Once users trust you on that, they can forget about it. Such education may be achievable by placing static text at the bottom of the form (where the Submit button would normally be) that says "All input automatically saved."

Something like what Google do on their Drive apps:

A screenshot of Google's spreadsheet app, with a small message saying "all changes saved to drive"

  • Google does exactly this in Docs: "All changes saved" In light grey. I took the liberty to edit the answer to add a screenshot. – Izhaki Jan 14 '15 at 23:30

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