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100 More Things #127 PEOPLE NEED FEEDBACK



If you’ve ever deleted some information and then realized that you didn’t want to delete it and tried to undo the action you will realize how important feedback is to humans.

The computer doesn’t need to tell you that it in fact reversed the action and your files are still there. But the human needs to hear it. People need feedback and reassurance in situations like this, but they also like to get feedback. Humans like to get feedback about what is going on, what has just happened, what is likely to happen. Here are some examples of the type of feedback you should build in to your interactions:

Critical Actions
As in the example above, if people have taken, are about to take, or are trying to undo previously taken very important interactions, then give them feedback on where they are in the process, what just happened and what is going to happen next.

Progress Indicators
If people have to wait while something happens, such as files uploading, or software installing, show them a progress indicator. It is not enough to show a wheel going round and round. There should be an indication, such as a solid bar filling in, or the number of files yet to be transferred, so that people can get a sense of how slowly or quickly the process is going.

Steps Completed
If people are going through a process that requires several steps, for example, filling out data on a series of screens, provide information on how many steps there are altogether and where they are in the process, for example, “Step 3 of 7”.


  • If you want people to feel comfortable with their interactions with your product you need to build in feedback.
  • The higher the “stakes” of the human activity the more important feedback is.
  • Make sure your feedback is clear and concise.
  • Prototype and research how much feedback is best for this particular situation.


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