In a data driven interactive environment, sometimes there is a need to refresh that data.
So what happens in the process of that data refresh? What are we, the users doing at that time?
Most mobile apps are pretty good at separating that data retreiveal process from the UI, meaning we can still interact with the old or non-updated data while we are waiting for the new information to appear.
More often than not though, I find myself simply sitting there for a few seconds waiting to look at the information I need.
Is this wasted time? Is this time that we can spend working on something else or even doing something else? Probably. Hell, sometimes I’m waiting for my data to refresh and maybe it’s taking too long that I just close the app and start doing something else, completely forgetting about the task that I was thinking of doing just a few seconds before.
Call this a short attention span or whatever you wish, but I can’t help but think that apps and other interactives that are created are meant to do one thing – hold our attention while we work on our tasks.
So what’s the solution as we sit there waiting for our ‘stuff’ to load?
I would be way more keen to stay in the app I’m using if there was something really simple to do while waiting for my game to load or waiting for my data to refresh. So this is what I propose: an incredibly lightweight interactive experience for the user that doesn’t require much cognitive effort to do so. This experience will last a few seconds at most, but will delight the user while they wait.
A simple game, an interactive toy, a lightweight data dump of news related to the task, something, anything so that I’m not just sitting there waiting.
Sure, I’m talking like a spoiled child that just can’t be patient while the wonders of technology and the vastness of human knowledge being presented to me nearly instantly, but at the same time, while I’m interacting with something, I want to stay engaged, or at the very least, learn something about what I’m doing.
I’m working on updating an app I created a year or so ago. Built into it is a dump of xml and parsing of that data. What I’m going to try and do is build something to keep the user interested while the data loads. This then begs the question: Do users want to interact with the old stuff? If so, why do they want to refresh?