Inconsistent Time Sliders

One of my favorite features for the new DVD player in Leopard is the time slider that hides in the bottom frame of the window. I like that it gets out of my way when I don't need it, but it is still right there when I do.
If you read yesterday's post, you'd know that I'd notice that this time slider is different than other time sliders that Apple uses in a default install. I wanted to explore this further, so I grabbed some screen shots from time sliders in various apps.

Wow, that's a lot of differences for such a simple user interface component.

  • Diamonds vs. triangles vs. dots for time line indicators

  • Time text at the end of bars vs. under the bar vs. none at all

  • Play indicators vs. none

  • Hours placeholder vs. none

  • Controls with the same icon, but different treatments (volume, full screen, play, pause, skip)

  • Different colors, different transparencies

  • Even silly things like rounded vs. squared

Of course not all of these differences are bad. It makes sense for the transparencies in some apps vs. not in others. QuickTime is also showing its age. The thing I want to know, is what's the optimal placement of these controls? Should Quick Look and QuickTime share the iTunes time slider? Should DVD and Front Row be more similar? I didn't even show the iTunes Cover Flow controls which, while not a time slider, still has many of these same controls and presents them differently yet again.

There has to be a better way to do these sliders, if for no other reason than to make them familiar to users across applications. Do you agree? Please discuss.


Samantha said...

Yes, there should be a better way. As with all good designs, they evolve over time and it seems that even though these separate apps still have several differences, they have all evolved to states that are fairly close and could be easily sucked into a single design. They all have the play/pause single button, no stop button (great improvement from the old ages), and a time line of some some sort to name a few. One obvious change that I think they could all adopt is only two previous/next buttons that would also function as rewind/fast forward. I remember being absolutely delighted when I realized that some CD players did this.

Jason said...

Sure, I'll discuss: http://floydpinks.blogspot.com/2007/11/ui-consistency.html

Jason said...

Stylesheet madness has hidden my link. Here is a better one.

asih said...
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