Background Tasks: how to improve the user experience?

Background tasks often require significant technical resources for complex user journeys. On top of that, they require effort and focus from the user’s side. What’s the best design strategy to deliver a seamless background tasks user experience that unlocks business value?

Background tasks are a nasty topic for teams focused on delivering digital experiences that meet user expectations, foresee user behaviours and unlock business value. For this project, a team of designers, product owners and developers began its design process based on the current version of our CMS.

This is because our users are already involved in these processes; moreover, user feedback is good regarding the learning curve and familiarity with the UI.

The user story is focused on finding the most friendly way to manage multiple tasks for multiple items. The current CMS is only available for the desktop experience, so we defined the breakpoints for designing MD and LG viewports for this project. We explained the story mapping to highlight the essential features of the user journey. As a new feature, we followed the MVP approach to ensure the learning curve was not so high and to avoid cognitive overload.

Below are the project assets underlying our development process.

The background task scenario

  1. You’re a professional seller on an e-commerce platform;
  2. You just imported 300 items to your profile;
  3. You want to publish 200 articles on the platform;


For points #2 and #3, the system needs more than 10 minutes. For instance, the system has some dependencies to perform some tasks because it is built with third parties (e.g. API dependencies)


We decided to start background tasks to prevent the user from being blocked by the process. This feature allows users to browse the website and perform other tasks while the functions run.

The background task UX KPIs

  1. Be sure that the user is aware that the task is heavy and the system needs time to execute it;
  2. Be sure that the flow is clear for the user in terms of actions, messages and triggers;
  3. Develop a notification system that can help the user understand the process status (ongoing, complete, etc.);
  4. Develop a control set to support the user in managing errors with a batch action;
  5. Be consistent in terms of UI and task sequences to give the user a chance to decrease the weight of the learning curve;

Lo-Fi Mockups

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Image credits

Photo by ün LIU on Unsplash

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