Whenever I am rushing for an office meeting and have to take an elevator, I press the elevator button multiple times, even after seeing it already ON. It is an act I do to alleviate my stress in the moment. I act irrationally, inspite of knowing that I cant speed up things. This happens to all of us in our daily lives, especially when we are in a hurry and can’t wait for things to happen on their own.
Ola, the ride hailing service in India, has introduced a cool feature on their app recently, that asked the user to let them (Ola) keep looking for a ride for five more minutes, in case the user didn’t get one in the first go, in an attempt to make things easier for the users.
While I think this is a really good problem to solve that actually helps users from having to try multiple times to book a ride, I felt it could have been implemented in a slightly better way. Let me explain you why I feel so.
Be it going to theatres to watch a movie, or heading to a railway station to catch that train to my hometown, whatever the situation is, I always get ready in the nick of time and then try to find a cab. Sometimes, I don’t get a cab when I try for the first time, but I keep trying. I count every second as I stare impatiently at the progress bar hoping to find a ride as soon as possible and whenever I feel it is taking longer, I cancel the ride and try to book again. Not that doing it this way gets me the cab faster but I feel I am in control of things by doing so. I reduce my anxiety by doing so. This is precisely why I felt this feature could have been implemented in a better way.
As you can see in the screenshots below, whenever I choose the option of letting Ola look for a ride for five more minutes, I don’t see the progress bar anymore. I don’t see anything inching forward. Sure, I am notified that the app is going to search for a ride in five minutes. Sure, I have an option to cancel this attempt and place a request one more time. But, by not showing the progress, the app is not making me feel that I am in control. Showing the progress of an action that takes longer is a fundamental principle of user-interface design.
- Progress indicators make a slow system insufferable and reduce uncertainty as explained in the article https://www.nngroup.com/articles/progress-indicators/.
- Here is another article from NewYork times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/us/placebo-buttons-elevators-crosswalks.html