we got the requirement to provide a function which could be time consuming when the rule has to be applied (up to several minutes). I would like to indicate what causes the performance issue. Some actions are always expensive g.g. a "None of the following", some are expensive in special circumstances.

rule builder

How to display? What we've come up with so far:

  1. Show an icon (e.g. triangle, snail with mouseover text) - only possible for always-expensive-actions.
  2. Estimate time for the whole query. If 1 second is estimated it can take 0.5 - 2 seconds.
  3. Estimate time for each line: not better than a good guess. The rule will be optimized internally and an estimation is not possible yet.

Any ideas which or what else would provide best usability?

  • Can the system be used in a batch mode? Jul 6, 2015 at 11:04
  • Not what I understand as a batch mode. In principle it has 2 purposes: 1) filter definitions e.g. like thunderbird. 2) data query like a graphical sql query
    – Gustav
    Jul 6, 2015 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


Google does something like this for Google Web Fonts:

Google Web Fonts screenshot

As the user selects options, the estimated overall impact on performance is displayed in a "speedometer"-style graphic. Some explanatory text is displayed below the graphic so users can easily understand the effects of their selections.


Idea: Add a graph.

Label red for long times, yellow for medium.

Graphs display potential for "short circuiting". "Any" conditions are put in parallel, "All" conditions are in series.


This would result in overload for casual, light users, but experienced users may find the graph useful.

  • color isn't really a good idea due to color blindness in around 10% of male population
    – Devin
    Jul 7, 2015 at 18:44

Message depends on who is using this, for what reasons, expecting what results, and performing what related actions at the same time.

Need more context on target users, task flow, and the application.

Based on the 3 options that you have provided

  1. Show icon - only possible for always expensive actions - can't use this for the same reason.
  2. Estimate time for the whole query - there is a time variance
  3. Estimate time for each line - estimation not possible yet

Option 2 is what I would suggest. Most users just want to know how long an entire process will take. You can just provide an approximate estimated time.

I don't know if you will face a scenario where users want to know time taken for each step. If that's the case, may be you can use this concept below.

Estimated time for every step

This gives the users a status on each step, and one combined estimated time on top.

  • Users are expert business users: use the software 8h/day, but less technical background . Why I think 3. might be important is that, yes I only need the complete time estimation, but this feedback doesn't give me any clue how to solve it wouldn't it?
    – Gustav
    Jul 8, 2015 at 9:31
  • Gustav, as they will be using the software quite often, it is ok to just show the complete time estimation, like the one in @jBurns answer. Sorry, I did not understand the last sentence. Do you mean, based on the estimation on individual steps, users will try to optimize the filters? Jul 8, 2015 at 15:59
  • Yes, I think with the complete time estimation people don't know what they should change. What I missed is that every time I do something the complete time estimation is getting updated, that should works.
    – Gustav
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:47

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