IT progress indicators: Sense of progress, subjective sense of time, user preference and the perception of process duration

T. S. Amer, Todd L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Users of information technology (IT) often encounter "progress indicators" during their interactions. These graphics (e.g., progress bars) appear on computing screens as users wait for a task to complete. The purpose of progress indicators is to inform users of the progress being made to complete a task. This study employs two theoretical models from psychological research on human waiting to develop specific hypotheses related to the design of progress indicators: the sense-of-progress and the subjective-sense-of-time frameworks. The results of three experiments indicate that progress indicators exhibiting key characteristics from these frameworks influence user experiences. Experiment 1 revealed that participants preferred a linear progress bar to a cycling progress bar. Experiment 2 revealed that participants preferred a video progress indicator to a cycling progress bar, and judged the process duration to be shorter with the video progress indicator. Experiment 3 revealed that the video progress indicator yielded the best user experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Human Interaction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014



  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Progress Bars
  • Progress Indicators
  • Psychology
  • Waiting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction

Cite this