Belfast Office
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Loading Magic

Jasmin Winiarski

Re-fuelling – Coffee loading screen.

How often do you pause during the day? Whether waiting at a bus stop, queuing up in a checkout line at the store, or enjoying a coffee break with a friend, these moments serve a purpose—one often overlooked in our tech-centric world. While waiting at a bus stop presents a prime opportunity for ads and standing in a queue is perfect for small impulse purchases, in the digital world, we see a parallel in the gaming industry. Loading screens aren't just idle moments; they're packed with handy advice and hidden gems. Despite the digital world's emphasis on speed and optimisation, it's these pauses in between that transform a simple A-to-B step into a journey.

Take, for instance, the game Horizon Forbidden West. The developers purposefully extended the time the loading screens were displayed. This move might seem unnecessary at first glance, given the game's already incredible loading times. However, it was a deliberate choice aimed at enhancing the player experience. By giving players more time to read tips and remember game mechanics and strategies, the extended loading screens became valuable pauses rather than mere inconveniences.

As designers, it's easy to forget that an optimised screen is not the only part of a website or product that makes it or breaks it. We craft the full experience, guiding people not only through what they see and hear, but also how they feel throughout those journeys.

Rory Sutherland famously painted the picture of you drinking a delicious wine in the French Riviera, then buying that same wine once you're back home, only to realise it's not quite the divine tasting bottle you had while on holiday. The ambiance, the company, the setting—all blend together to elevate the taste of the wine. It's the context—the seemingly inconsequential details—that imbue the experience with value beyond measure.

As product designers, we must think beyond the screen. We must consider the setting in which the user finds themselves, the time of day, and how they might feel in the moment. Sometimes, the fastest way to get somewhere isn't always the goal. It's about crafting an experience that resonates with users on a deeper level, enriching their journey and leaving a lasting impression long after the screen fades to black. I believe this is what makes our jobs akin to working magic – operating in the ether, where every interaction, every detail, is an opportunity to create delight.