What is a Skeleton screen?
A skeleton screen is a user interface (UI) placeholder used to signify the loading state of an element or page. In many cases, it’s a blank gray box with no content inside until the loading process completes. Skeleton screens provide feedback to users that their request is being processed and can help create a sense of progress as they wait for content to appear. They also present a more visually appealing outcome than leaving space empty while waiting for data to load into the UI. Additionally, they can be styled and customized with your brand colors and fonts, creating a more consistent experience across your product or website. Ultimately, using skeleton screens helps enhance user experience’s by providing visual clues about what’s happening and helping make waits feel faster.
Skeleton loading screens are common in applications with long loading times, where a slightly better user experience can make all the difference. However, when it comes to performance, skeleton loading screens sometimes solve the problem of slow load times. If your application has underlying structural issues that prevent content from loading quickly, skeleton screens won’t fix those problems; they only help mask them temporarily. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the limitations and use best practices for implementing them correctly.
Using skeleton screens as part of your UX strategy can help you create an improved user experience even when data is slow to arrive. By providing users with visual feedback and hinting at progress during wait times, you can enhance the user experience and make your product or website more enjoyable. It’s an effective way to keep users engaged until content is ready to be shown.
Skeleton screens can also be a great addition to progressive web apps, connecting native UI element’s with the loading state of data in order to provide a seamless transition between different states of the application. Doing so creates a smoother UX that keeps users informed and engaged while they wait for content to load.
Why are Skeleton screens so effective?
Skeleton screens do not make pages load faster. They are intended to make pages load faster.
Skeleton screens have a similar function to spinners and other animations. Moreover, they provide a visual cue that the user needs to wait for some content to load.
Skeleton screens, unlike spinners, create the illusion of progress. The spinner animation does not relate to the content. It also doesn’t tell us how long we will have to wait. Skeleton screens make it seem like we are watching the content being presented to us. Users perceive loading times to be shorter when they are shown a skeleton screen than when they are shown a spinner screen or a blank screen. This is even though the waiting period remains the same.
Skeletons screens are a trick that tricks us into having a better user interface without us realizing it. This is what you should be thinking about.
How can you design a Skeleton screen?
The central role of motion
Although further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness and efficacy of skeleton screens, we have a few clues about how we can make the best of this unique pattern:
Designers should choose a wave effect (or shimmer) over a pulse.
It would be best if you did not move so fast that you draw attention to the skeleton objects. Slow and steady motion is best, as shown in the Google iOS App.
Designers should choose animation that moves left to right. It would be interesting to observe how RTL-reading cultures interpret this differently.
Use dominant colors
It is unique to use dominant color-based skeleton objects to provide future context for loading objects. This makes it more obvious what the future loaded state will look like. Google Photos and Pinterest use this pattern.
How to use Skeleton Screens on Your Site?
Skeleton screens can be a great way to improve your website’s user experience by giving the impression of quicker load times. There are better solutions for all loading scenarios.
Generally, skeleton screens work best on:
- Resource-intensive pages: Pages with multiple background scripts, for example, will take longer to load. This is common with web applications that pull data from various sources to create a page.
- Images-heavy web pages: A skeleton screen could be a good placeholder if you have to load multiple images simultaneously. These pages might benefit from lazy loading before, an alternative technique to reduce perceived load time.
Here are some instances when you should avoid them.
- To replace poor performance. Skeleton screens only last for a while. They lose their effectiveness when load times drag on too long. You can optimize your website to load content faster. Always do this first. Our Ultimate Guide To Website Performance is a fantastic place to begin if you are new to lowering load time.
- Pages that load quickly: Pages that load less than 500 milliseconds will likely not have skeleton screens.
- Videos: People still associate video buffering and spinners. Avoid using skeleton screens when a video is loading.
- More complex processes: File conversions, uploads, and downloads that take longer should be accompanied by a different visual cue, such as a progress bar.
- Skeleton screens not matching the rendered content: Try as hard as you can to match your final content in size and placement. Users will not be happy if they see a skeleton screen that is followed by content that doesn’t follow logically.
As with all UX optimizations, we recommend that you test skeleton screens with your visitors if possible. Although research shows they are effective, it doesn’t guarantee that they will work for your audience. Skeleton screens can confuse. However, you need to test them with your users.
Skeleton screens are simple but powerful UI placeholders used to signify the loading state of an element or page. They provide users feedback while waiting and help enhance their overall experience by creating a sense of progress during loading times. When used correctly, skeleton screens can be a great addition to any UX strategy, product, or website.
Ui UX design services
Our Ui UX design services help you improve your user’s experience and let them enjoy checking out your website or application. We help make your interfaces more user-friendly and efficient. UI/UX design services can also help you gather valuable feedback from customers to improve your product or service.
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