Countdown timer speed

Moojan Ghafurian, David Reitter, Frank E. Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We face delays in a variety of situations. They are either inevitable, e.g., due to system limits, or are intentionally added, e.g., advertisements. In many situations, a visual feedback is provided during the delay to manage expectations. This feedback is usually provided through progress bars, percentages, or countdowns, depending on design limitations such as screen size. In this article, we use 15-second delays and examine (a) how delays affect users' decision-making and task satisfaction, and (b) how to manipulate time perception to reduce the negative consequences of delays. Experiment 1 (N=421) shows that faster countdowns increase task satisfaction and lead to more rational decisions in the subsequent task. In Experiment 2, we investigate the effect of countdown speed on delay perception and recall (N=531). We show that faster countdowns lead to shorter perceived delays, while the delay will be recalled as longer after the task. The opposite is obtained for slower countdowns. We also increased the countdown rate and found a limit for the effect of increased speed. Thus, designers have to trade-off between how delays are perceived at the moment of experience and how they are recalled. We discuss the implications of these findings for user interface design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 20 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human-Computer Interaction


Dive into the research topics of 'Countdown timer speed'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this