Are “skeleton screens” helping or hurting users?

Two UX Designers from Viget conducted research on “skeleton screens” (the loading screen displayed while apps in particular are loading content):

We gave the test to 136 people, and the skeleton screen performed the worst by all metrics. Users in the skeleton screen group took longer to complete the task, were more likely to evaluate their wait time negatively (by answering the first question with “Strongly disagree” or “Moderately disagree”), and guessed that the wait time had been longer than users who saw the loading spinner or a blank screen.

That is incredibly interesting, and it’s great to get a reality check on something I thought was a well-established practice.

I don’t know how Jef Raskin would have reacted to this.