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Consider a page with multiple sections , the content of each section is loaded async via ajax once the user has reached the page. Current implementation demands that a loader icon , such as a spinner , be shown in each individual section till the ajax calls return with response. As each section may complete load at different times.

Question is - is it a good user exp to have such multiple loaders for each section , or is it a good user exp to just have a single loader shown in an opaque overlay until all the async calls are complete and the sections have been painted ?

More info,

  • The sections are placed one below the other.
  • Each section is independent of the other and can be acted upon once the sections are painted.
  • Regarding the last point - Are the sections independent on each other or you have to wait for all of them to be 100% completed and then act upon them? – digsrafik Aug 17 '15 at 15:14
  • @digsrafik : They are related in context , but independent based on user interaction , to illustrate more, consider these : Shipping ( a few radios) / Payment ( a few checkboxes)/ Terms and Conditions ( a few checkboxes) / Summary (a big old button) – semuzaboi Aug 17 '15 at 17:09
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You should show a spinner icon for each section as it loads. The main reason for saying this is that you have said users can begin to interact with a section once it has finished loading. Allowing this will create a sense of faster loading for the page, which reduces user stress.

Since each section likely refreshes after an interaction by the user, having multiple spinners is a good idea because it provides the user with the most accurate feedback for what is going on. Feedback is one of the most important aspects for interfaces: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/.

  • Agreed, also since he mentioned its using AJAX the sections could load in random order. If one of the bottom sections load first you will want some sort of placeholder loading icon or it will be confusing when new items start showing up all around it. – DasBeasto Aug 17 '15 at 19:38
  • One more query, if i may, is it a good design to show a single loader during the initial page load and once page has completely loaded switch to multiple individual loaders for each section ? ! – semuzaboi Aug 19 '15 at 5:25
  • If the page is going to take more than 2 seconds to load, then you should provide some level of feedback to the user. Again, keeping the user informed of what is going on will keep them on the page longer and help prevent abandonment. – tonytrucco Aug 19 '15 at 13:35

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