Users ability with slider controls

1 Nov 2007 - 2:26pm
6 years ago
14 replies
518 reads
Ari
2006

i can't link to direct experience with this type of control for web
interfaces. they've existed ever since AJAX caught on and i've only seen
them implemented properly in very limited circumstances.
a few social networking sites use(d) them in lieu of spin controls or normal
drop down elements to do things such as select age ranges or distance
proximity. it was quirky for the most part.

personally speaking, i've found these type of controls work best as volume
controls or as 'sizers' - e.g. to control the physical scale of an element
and as a way to allow a user to specify a scale rating as in a survey since
these controls have a min and max value and can be graduated.

people know how to use them since Windows and OS X both have analogs, though
they are more frequently encountered in OS X than than are in older versions
of Windows. just make sure that the 'knob' used to control the slider is
easy to manipulate.

On 11/1/07, Tim <tim.minor at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hello,
>
> I wonder, does anyone know of / carried out / read any research into
> users'
> familiarity and ability with slider controls?
>
> This sort of thing for example:
> http://wiki.script.aculo.us/scriptaculous/show/SliderDemo (although I
> don't
> particularly like their implementation of them).
>
> My feeling is, as long as it looks a lot like a slider and that the
> control
> affords horizontal movement there enough real, physical sliders in the
> world
> that people would have an understanding of how they work?
>
> They feature in the Energy Saver in System Preferences in OS X for example
> so guess at least a few people know how they work...
>
> I'm trying to put together a rating tool, users rate a product on a scale
> of
> 1 to 10, and it seems to me that a slider fits the bill perfectly.
>
> Clearly there needs to be graceful degradation for clients without
> javascript but aside from that, does anyone have any comments?
>
> Thanks in advance,
> Tim
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
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--
--------------------------------------------------
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--------------------------------------------------

Comments

1 Nov 2007 - 2:28pm
Barbara Ballard
2005

On 11/1/07, Tim <tim.minor at gmail.com> wrote:
> I wonder, does anyone know of / carried out / read any research into users'
> familiarity and ability with slider controls?
>
> I'm trying to put together a rating tool, users rate a product on a scale of
> 1 to 10, and it seems to me that a slider fits the bill perfectly.

We ran a study recently in which there was a slider and a list of
checkboxes on a single (mobile phone) screen. Initial focus was on
the slider. Findings include:

- everybody easily set the slider
- some people couldn't move focus off the slider
- once users were thinking about the checkboxes, they didn't notice
that their actions were affecting the slider

Obviously the mobile context is different than the desktop.

--
Barbara Ballard
barbara at littlespringsdesign.com 1-785-838-3003

1 Nov 2007 - 4:52pm
SemanticWill
2007

Well thank you very much - I tried to do a good job. Glad you like
it :-)

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Nov 1, 2007, at 3:08 PM, "Mike Scarpiello" <mscarpiello at gmail.com>
wrote:

> For reference, do a search on the www.kayak.com site. They do a
> great job
> with sliders.
>
> On 11/1/07, Tim <tim.minor at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> Hello,
>>
>> I wonder, does anyone know of / carried out / read any research into
>> users'
>> familiarity and ability with slider controls?
>>
>> This sort of thing for example:
>> http://wiki.script.aculo.us/scriptaculous/show/SliderDemo (although I
>> don't
>> particularly like their implementation of them).
>>
>> My feeling is, as long as it looks a lot like a slider and that the
>> control
>> affords horizontal movement there enough real, physical sliders in
>> the
>> world
>> that people would have an understanding of how they work?
>>
>> They feature in the Energy Saver in System Preferences in OS X for
>> example
>> so guess at least a few people know how they work...
>>
>> I'm trying to put together a rating tool, users rate a product on a
>> scale
>> of
>> 1 to 10, and it seems to me that a slider fits the bill perfectly.
>>
>> Clearly there needs to be graceful degradation for clients without
>> javascript but aside from that, does anyone have any comments?
>>
>> Thanks in advance,
>> Tim
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help

1 Nov 2007 - 5:11pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> For reference, do a search on the www.kayak.com site. They do a great job
> with sliders.
>

Just don't implement them in a set of sidebar filters like Kayak does. Many
people either never notice it, see it but ignore it, or only adjust only one
or two options. Most of what Kayak offers goes unused or unnoticed.

-r-

1 Nov 2007 - 5:24pm
Anonymous

Strange - I think Kayak is great.

On 11/1/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>
> For reference, do a search on the www.kayak.com site. They do a great job
> >
> > with sliders.
> >
>
>
> Just don't implement them in a set of sidebar filters like Kayak does.
> Many people either never notice it, see it but ignore it, or only adjust
> only one or two options. Most of what Kayak offers goes unused or unnoticed.
>
>
> -r-
>

1 Nov 2007 - 6:00pm
SemanticWill
2007

Common guys - cut me some slack :-)

Actually Roberts right - all the social networking stuff I designed
goes unused and I've learned alot since then.

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Nov 1, 2007, at 6:24 PM, "Mike Scarpiello" <mscarpiello at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Strange - I think Kayak is great.
>
> On 11/1/07, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>>
>> For reference, do a search on the www.kayak.com site. They do a
>> great job
>>>
>>> with sliders.
>>>
>>
>>
>> Just don't implement them in a set of sidebar filters like Kayak
>> does.
>> Many people either never notice it, see it but ignore it, or only
>> adjust
>> only one or two options. Most of what Kayak offers goes unused or
>> unnoticed.
>>
>>
>> -r-
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help

1 Nov 2007 - 6:14pm
Cliff Williams
2007

Our user testing has shown something similar to what Robert H.
mentions... most users did not interact with sliders on the page on
their own. A few didn't notice them. The ones who did understood
their relationship to the data but did not interact with them. Our
implementation was similar to Kayak's--a few sliders mixed with
other controls. When mixed with other interactive bits, the sliders
seemed to scan as a reporting element only--not an interactive one.

Not to hijack the thread, but (IMHO) Kayak's design is a big bucket
of hey-look-what-web2.0-can-do with a teaspoon of
users-should-be-able-to-use-this.

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1 Nov 2007 - 6:42pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Our user testing has shown something similar to what Robert H.
> mentions... most users did not interact with sliders on the page on
> their own. A few didn't notice them. The ones who did understood
> their relationship to the data but did not interact with them.

On the flipside, however, the Amazon Diamond Search interface (
http://tinyurl.com/2aw9um) is chock full of sliders, and they definitely get
used. In that case, they're the main show - not a sidebar of filtering
options, but the primary interface that must be used to get the info you
want.

Users still complain about the dexterity required to set the sliders
correctly, though - particularly while using the Price slider.

-r-

2 Nov 2007 - 5:02am
Anonymous

I dug about a bit after posting and came across Kayak and some other
sites. A few of them seem to have implemented sliders fairly
successfully and I agree that Kayak's tools feel pretty useful.

Yahoo is also experimenting with them in their new Mindset search
tool (http://mindset.research.yahoo.com/) and ShopSmart
(http://shopping.yahoo.com/smartsort/) and Amazon with their Diamond
Search tool (mentioned by Robert H above).

I'm not yet convinced that Mindset makes much sense - how do I know
where in the scale between 'shopping' and 'research' I need to
be? I guess the results are going to be key as always.

But in most of these cases the job of the slider is pretty advanced.
All I'm asking users to do is rate a product between one and ten
which I _hope_ is a much simpler task. (I'm reassured by Barbara's
findings that sliders were easily set.) The sliders I'm proposing
make up a significant portion of the page so hopefully they'll be
seen.

As well as having numbers on a graduated scale, I'm planning on
presenting the user with an updating number representing their vote.
I think this a requirement. Is there anything else that you consider
a must-have?

I just have a feeling that it's more satisfactory to use a slider
than poke about at radio controls or drop-downs.

Many thanks for comments so far!

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2 Nov 2007 - 6:50am
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

Hi think that sliders definitely have their place. I don't think they
scale well, though, More than 10 stops and things get messy.

I believe that sliders work best with scales within the same values.
Adjusting prices, screen resolution, etc...

For what Tim proposes I believe that a 5 star control (with half
stars maybe) like google videos or windows media player works best.
>From my experience it's harder for users to classify things within a
10 point scale. 5 works best in my opinion.

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2 Nov 2007 - 12:59pm
Kam Stewart
2007

Oops, it appears I only sent my post to Robert, instead of the group.
cheers, /k

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kam Stewart <kamstewart at gmail.com>
Date: Nov 1, 2007 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Users ability with slider controls
To: "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <robert at rhjr.net>

I have to agree with Robert on the placement of the affordance in
relationship to the primary content being the largest factor to whether
users see and use the sliders. I was looking for them on kayak and almost
missed them. On the other hand, I did an application for Apple, that used
sliders at the base of the main content, to page through it, and it was very
warmly received.

page 2 of 10
|--o------------|

I hope you like (and can read) my ASCI mock up. As the user dragged the
slider the page number updated and page contents refreshed. (It may have
also had next previous arrows at the outsides I don't recall) The point
being it was clear, obvious and easy to manipulate. It also reinforces user
location within the content. The one other touch that it had, and
scipt.aculo.us has available, is the thumb snapped to page indexes instead
of being continuous. This helped a lot when the number of pages in different
content blocks changed.

/Kam

--

/Kam

5 Nov 2007 - 10:28am
Jon Baker
2007

Hi,

I think sliders are good for selecting approximate values, where
there is clear (immediate) feedback as the slider is used. They work
well for volume controls or zoom controls which is where they are
commonly used. From my experience they are not partcularly useful for
precision selecting of a value. With a volume control there is audio
feedback and the user is rarely in the position of thinking I want
exactly 33dB, rather thay want appoximately the correct volume that
is not defening, but can still be heard. With the zoom, the user
generally wants to zoom to the point that what they are zooming is
large enough for their needs. They are rarely thinking I need to zoom
this to 300%.

If precise entry of a number is needed then use something else. For
rating systems I think the selectable stars work well. As to thumb up
thumb down controls.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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5 Nov 2007 - 12:33pm
Parth Upadhye
2007

>>Actually Roberts right - all the social networking stuff I designed
goes unused and I've learned a lot since then.

The sliders get lost because there is a lot of real estate given to
the ads that populate the page (business decision). In lieu of
sliders, if you used a Clock-like interface for timings, users may be
more likely to use it. The response is amazingly fast. If the filters
of narrowing results were laid out at the top horizontally, users
would be more likely to use them. Also adding color to highlight some
very valuable information on these pages would increase readability;
e.g. Stops and Airlines results are important enough to validate
different background colors. Also the Airports control is somewhere
between between sliders. It could be a different color too so it
stand out - but not very sure what purpose it serves. Great idea; but
didn't work too well for me Toronto to Vancouver.

Google ads are great but I find that in this case they drive the user
to pages/sites in direct competition with the results I am looking at.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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5 Nov 2007 - 12:36pm
Patrick G
2006

Really? What about using sliders to set threshold values for
filtering data on the fly? For example, I quite like how Kayak.com
does this with different criteria for airline flights, e.g. -
departure time, layover time, price, etc. on the bottom-left:

http://www.kayak.com/s/flights.jsp?
searchid=iRza_w8B4cB5pz_sZJvo&completed=true

On Nov 5, 2007, at 7:28 AM, Jon Baker wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I think sliders are good for selecting approximate values, where
> there is clear (immediate) feedback as the slider is used. They work
> well for volume controls or zoom controls which is where they are
> commonly used. From my experience they are not partcularly useful for
> precision selecting of a value. With a volume control there is audio
> feedback and the user is rarely in the position of thinking I want
> exactly 33dB, rather thay want appoximately the correct volume that
> is not defening, but can still be heard. With the zoom, the user
> generally wants to zoom to the point that what they are zooming is
> large enough for their needs. They are rarely thinking I need to zoom
> this to 300%.
>
> If precise entry of a number is needed then use something else. For
> rating systems I think the selectable stars work well. As to thumb up
> thumb down controls.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=22044
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://gamma.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://gamma.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://gamma.ixda.org/help

5 Dec 2007 - 1:18pm
Pedro Neves
2007

In a multiple screen touch world (as we can see in Jeff H.demo )there
are no sliders, or they exist but they don%u2019t have the format
that we know, the sliding movement it's vital, but the slider as we
know it will be something of the past. Thank you for the mouse
wheel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scroll_wheel

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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