Warn users about timeouts that cause data loss.
Time limits can cause problems for some users with cognitive impairments, who may take longer to complete tasks on a website. It’s therefore important to allow users to complete a process in more than one sitting and alert users to the length of any timeout period.
How to Pass ‘Timeouts’
- Where possible, allow users 20 hours before a timeout removes their data
- Warn users of the duration of any timeout period at the beginning of the task
There are two main types of timeout, for inactivity or a hard time limit. Inactivity is easier for users to deal with as they may be making progress (albeit at a slower pace) and so will be less likely to trigger the timeout.
Hard time limits can be justified if they protect user data or are essential for a business (for example an auction site or hotel room booking form).
Watch out for privacy regulations when you store data, many countries require explicit positive consent for you to do so.
This guideline overlaps with Timing Adjustable, which also deals with time-limits and the controls around them.