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  1. Service manual
  2. Design
  3. Progress indicators

This guide explains when and how to help people see how much of a transaction they’ve completed.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 13 (make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK) in your service assessments, you must use GOV.UK design patterns and guidance.

Read the guide on using, adapting and creating patterns before you start designing or building anything.

When to use a progress indicator

First, test your service without any progress indicators. Many services are simple enough that users don’t need them.

Try improving the order, type or number of questions before adding a progress indicator.

If people still have problems then try adding a simple step or question indicator, like this one:

Progress indicators 1.png

This approach is compact and usually enough to give people the confidence to continue.

Only include the total number of questions if you can do so reliably. If the total number changes as the user continues through the service, make sure you update the indicator.

Examples to avoid

Don’t use this type of progress indicator:

Progress indicators 2.png

These can be problematic because they:

  • are often not noticed
  • take up lots of space
  • don’t scale well on small screens
  • can distract and confuse some people
  • make it hard to write good labels for the steps
  • make it hard to handle conditional sections

This style of progress indicator has been removed from a number of services on GOV.UK without any negative effects.

Read a blog post about how the Carer’s Allowance team removed a 12-step progress indicator with no effect on completion rates or times.

Discuss progress indicators

Discuss using progress indicators on the design patterns wiki.

You may also find these guides useful:

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Guidance first published