10 inspiring progress bars that delight users

September 12, 2018
How to create inspiring progress bars

Progress bars set expectations, give an impression of activity and can calm users. Here are 10 that do it right

Good design has the power to turn the mundane into the marvelous. UX designers are no different when it comes to infusing a small amount of pleasure into a seemingly straightforward experience.

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The humble progress bar hasn’t escaped this treatment. Progress bars are not the most exciting thing in the world but they are powerful, even in a wireframe. They’re what you see when a screen is loading if you’re downloading something, watching a video or listening to a song. A progress bar shows you have much progress you’ve made and how much left you’ve got to make.


Progress bars are a great way to calm your users. What they do is set expectations and give an impression of activity. They’re a way of communicating with the user and being transparent. A progress bar tells them: hey, we’re doing what you asked but it’ll take this long.

This sort of appropriate feedback lets the user know if the interaction was successful or not. When the progress bar is complete, a user will feel a rush of endorphins, too.  

Here are 10 progress bars that we wouldn’t mind seeing when we’ve got a little waiting on our hands. Also, if you want to check out how to incorporate progress bars into your project from the very start, check out our post on UI wireframes

1. Progress bar by Krishanpal Singh

This progress bar by Krishanpal Singh makes use of calm gradients and quirky illustrations. What’s great about this little progress bar is the “expected arrival” copy, reassuring users and setting expectations. Although, the “78%” seems superfluous. How can a person put that into context? What does 78% of the way there mean? A better alternative might be how many miles are left on the journey.


2. Progress saving by Kevin Jones

This progress bar by Kevin Jones is for saving your work, presumably to the cloud. This could work well as a menu bar icon for a cloud service. It’s an inoffensive and cute design and illustrates the point perfectly.


3. Loading Astronauts by Supi

Illustrations are a great way to create engagement and add visual interest to a user interface. A progress bar is a great place to add a relevant animation, especially as it beats a standard progress bar. This one, by Supi, is animated and the astronaut runs across the moon as it spins on an axis. The color palette is uniform and doesn’t hurt the eye. We’d be happy to see this one.


4. Loading by Jared Gase

Sometimes a progress bar feels like a marathon and Jared Gase managed to capture that idea perfectly. It’s simple and the metaphor packs a punch.


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5. Runners progress bar by Think Studio

Similar to the last one, this progress bar by Think Studio works for the runners among us. The shoe represents the distance travelled and the finish line… it’s so close! This design would work really well in a fitness or exercising app.


7. Sign up page progress steps by Pal Blanke

Ah, another progress bar that sets expectations. Good! Pal Blanke‘s 3 step page progress steps firmly let you know where exactly you are and how much you’ve got to go before you complete the form.

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8. Snail progress bar by Andrey Davlikanov

This progress bar by Andrey Davlikanov is fun, colorful and different. But, let’s be realistic. Nobody wants a progress bar to move at a snail’s pace, do they? Nice design, shame about the metaphor.


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9. Amazon's delivery progress bar

Amazon’s tracking bar is very useful for online shoppers eager to know when their delivery will arrive. This progress bar usefully tells you if there was a delivery attempt in case you were out. It also lets you know when to expect your delivery.


A timeline like this in ecommerce is great because users want to know when their packages we dispatched and when they’re arriving.

9. Progress bar by C.H.C

We love this progress bar by C.H.C. The little chat box slopes down the progress bar as it loads, creating an engaging and dynamic animation. It’s delightful.


10. Spotify song progress bar ft. Stranger Things

Ooooh, Stranger Things! This Easter Egg, found on Spotify, is awesome. It transforms the UI into The Upside Down and a light beam moves slowly over the screen as your song plays. Watch out for the Demogorgon!


The only drawback to this progress bar is that it isn’t available anymore. But don’t let that stop you from taking some sweet inspiration from the design.

10 inspiring progress bars that delight - the takeaway

A progress bar is an opportunity to make the waiting time a little more interesting than usual for your users.

What a progress bar can do is make impatient users happier, boost engagement and set expectations. If a progress bar looks like it’ll be a while, this can act as a cue for someone to get up and make themselves a hot drink during the wait. Use these 10 progress bars as inspiration for your own designs.

Rebeka Costa
In-house SEO manager, usability enthusiast and patron of all sleep-deprived designers