2.2 Enough time

I think this is a very simple guideline:

Provide users enough time to read and use content.

Most of the sub-guidelines in this section are about web pages that include forms. I remember getting caught out by several of these, donkey's years ago, when we had dial-up Internet. I would contribute to a discussion and by the time it had sent, it had timed out. Even now, if I type a large forum post, I tend to copy it (ctrl+C) before clicking the send button... just in case it times out.

Timed content

I am really not a fan of timed content. One of my predecessors at work had a habit of setting timings in their eLearning, so that the user couldn't progress without reading the slide. It would drive me mad! I read quickly and I would read it and then have to sit and wait to move on. So irritating!

When we lived in Finland though, I had the opposite problem. Anything I have to/had to read in Finnish takes me longer than it would take a Finn. Reading in a second language is often slower than in your mother tongue. I remember us taking my class to the cinema to see a Swedish film which was subtitled in Finnish. My 3rd graders had no problem reading the subtitles but I only got half way through each line. 

Reading content in a second language taught me a lot. There are other reasons why somebody might read more slowly. Learning disabilities often cause barriers to reading at speed (though not always) and some people just need more time to read and process the text. Others, like me, absorb it almost photographically.

So, my preference for things like PowerPoints and similar presentations is to allow users to progress at their own pace. Don't set timings. If you need timings for a specific reason, please think about people who need more time to read it and process it. They should be able to pause the timings.

Screen readers

Just a word about screen readers and eLearning. I found out a while ago, that with Storyline packages, screen readers read what is on the screen when it loads. If there is a delay between items arriving on the slide, JAWS (or other screen reader) can miss it. This would particularly be true for experienced users who have their JAWS settings set to read content at high speed. 

I watched somebody use JAWS at high speed once. They had their speed set so high, I couldn't hear it properly. It sounded like gobbledy-gook! But he could understand it just fine. He was tuned into it.


There isn't that much that regular people do, that involve setting timings. I think PowerPoint is the main one. All I would advise is to really consider whether it is essential before setting timings for items coming in or out. Apart from anything else, what if the doorbell rings? Any distraction would mean missing content... so I don't use timings much at all.

If you happen to use PowerPoint to create animations (as I have recently encountered a lot at work) consider saving it as an mp4 video file and treating it more like a video. You could then consider either subtitles or audio description. I'm working on an audio description for an animation created in PowerPoint at the moment. I'll let you know how it goes.


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