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Designing for Long Waits and Interruptions: Mitigating Breaks in Workflow in Complex Application Design

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Summary: 5 guidelines help users tolerate the long waits and frequent interruptions that are typical of complex workflows


Users of complex applications are frequently interrupted during their workflows, starting a task only to have to wait an extended period of time before completing it. These long waits occur for a variety of reasons — for example, the system may need a substantial amount of time to process a request (e.g., run a model, query a database) or the user may need additional information from external sources before proceeding and be forced to wait while information is gathered and before the task can be resumed.

Regardless of circumstance, adhering to the following 5 guidelines can mitigate the frustration that complex-app users experience during long waits or interruptions in their workflows:

The rest of this article provides additional details and examples for each of these guidelines.

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