0

I have a Web based UI, and it has a one line panel in which a summary of ongoing background activity is shown. When background activity is occurring, a spinner shows in the panel with a summary of the activity, e.g. "Scanned 10 of 20 folders". When activity completes, the text disappears. To the right of the panel is a button to invoke fresh "scans".

Ongoing scan

The activity is long running, and is not always changed as a result of user action - it could be another user's action, something on a schedule, or something invoked automatically as the result of some event.

When there's no text there, it just looks like an empty space with the button floating off to the right. I wonder if some sort of placeholder should appear instead so the user knows that activity may appear there.

enter image description here

Am I the only one to think it looks like a waste of space?

I don't want to make the panel appear and disappear because I personally dislike Web pages that move contents up and down a page. Always seems to occur just when I'm about to click a link...

Are there any broad guidelines as to what to do about these content areas?

2

I completely agree the content should not shift.

I would put a message showing the "staleness" of the data, e.g.

"Last scanned 10 minutes ago"

or

"Last scanned on 6/27 at 9:30"

This gives the user the context they need to decide whether or not they want to trigger a manual re-scan (or helps explain why something they are looking for isn't shown- it is too new).

  • That's a good idea, and better than a dumb "Activity will appear here". Would you advise different styling, e.g. greyed out text, italics? – Dan Gravell Jun 27 '16 at 14:21
  • 1
    How about a (green/gray) checkmark to indicate that the last scan was successful? If something fails, do you have means to notify the user? You might add a red text to indicate that the last scan failed. – Leon Adler Jun 27 '16 at 14:56
  • I agree with Leon and yes- making it visually less prominent is a good idea since it's not something the user has to read or make a decision on, since it's just contextual information. – J. Dimeo Jun 27 '16 at 20:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.