This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.
Instead of a “loading” animation that we may bail out on, why not tell a story? I was impressed with this technique used by BMW. They are running banner ads on NBC’s site which hypes the upcoming Olympic events. You see a car in the banner ad, you expect to click and see more car. But you don’t. Instead, a blank white screen with just a few short words pops up. But the words tell a quick paced story. phrase by phrase, of what joy is. Joy is Timeless. Joy is Freedom. Joy is Innovation. And below those words is the “loading” indicator. 10%, 20%, 32%, and so on. A nice example of storytelling used in design – if you are going to make someone wait (or have to, because you are loading a high-end car video), consider getting them engaged with a story.