If there is one thing most Internet users agree on, it has to be the fact that waiting for something to happen without knowing what is going on is a real pain. All too often, long waiting times while something is loading lead to visitors giving up and going elsewhere, especially if they do not know why they are waiting. This makes it vital to provide them with feedback on what is happening and why.

Let's face it, if you were on a bus and all of the sudden the driver simply stops and sits there doing nothing, you would not be a happy bunny and demand to know what is going on. If the drier did, however, inform you that he needs to stop because he is feeling a little unwell, you'd be happy to wait patiently until he feels well enough to carry on.

While keeping your visitors waiting can simply not be avoided from time to time, telling them why they have to wait will lead to far fewer of them simply disappearing. So what can you do to keep them informed?

If you have to load some data or update content, for instance, a progress bar or a spinning animation offering advice on what is happening can be highly effective. This does, in fact, work well for most instances of having to make a user wait, whatever the reason may be.

Some sites, for example, show an advert while the actual landing page is loading. If this is shown without any indication of how long this ad will remain on the screen many users will simply click away. If it is, however, accompanied by a loading-process bar, or a count-down to when they can click away from the add, they are far more likely to wait.

Issues causing downtimes are another example of the chance to lose visitors. Simply letting them wonder why the page is not loading ultimately results in them going somewhere else. The likelihood of these visitors returning to try again at a later point is also slim to say the least. Providing a page informing them of the reason for the sites absence, however, will show them that you care enough to keep them informed, and they will come back later to see whether the issue has been resolved.

In a similar way, it is also a good idea to have an attractive and informative Error 404 (not found) page. Mistakes do happen, but if you show an error page linking to the correct URL, or at least offering advice on how to get there, you are far less likely to lose potential customers as a result of such mistakes.