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We're trying to implement the most effective method of displaying duration it takes for user to complete a puzzle.
Looking for simplicity and accuracy.
I've added two examples that we've been working on, what do you think is the best way to present this data? New suggestions welcome!

enter image description here enter image description here

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What time ranges are likely here? Hours? Days? – JohnGB Dec 31 '12 at 14:45
It will likely only take user few hours to complete puzzle but there is possibility of it being carried out over a number of days – bobbyrne01 Dec 31 '12 at 14:53
If it's impossible or highly unlikely to solve in less than 2 steps I'd get rid of the (s) in 'Move(s):' - makes it just harder to read for almost no benefit – greenforest Jan 1 '13 at 11:19
@greenforest +1 same for minute(s), hour(s), etc. It's really easy to find out the ending (especially in english). – alexeypegov Jan 1 '13 at 16:03
@greenforest there are 8 game modes and only likely to solve in 1 move on the first mode – bobbyrne01 Jan 1 '13 at 22:19
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Look at how times are shown in other stopwatch applications as an indication, as they have been refined over years. The typical way that it is shown is simply as HH:MM:SS.

enter image description here

If you're only looking for time to an accuracy of seconds and you want more than just numbers, then something like 2h 23m 12s seems clear enough without taking up lots of space. You could even add decimal places to the seconds if you need to.

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1d 2h 23m 12s Like this suggestion as helps user understand what each portion of the result corresponds to in relation to time – bobbyrne01 Dec 31 '12 at 15:01
Stopwatch should measure precisely so showing every portion is a plus. And if you don't need milliseconds, or even seconds, you may just show "20 mins" and it will be much more convenient for the user. – alexeypegov Jan 1 '13 at 16:00
went with similiar format to screenshot i.e 00:00:00.0 – bobbyrne01 Jan 3 '13 at 2:11

Do you have a score table (with durations shown) or something?

  1. If "yes" it's better to use precise numbers and show time as it was suggested by @JohnGB

  2. But if it's just for users own information and you can drop, for example, seconds for durations longer than 15 minutes and minutes for durations longer than day, and let user see approximate time I believe you may use something like this: "Duration: 42 mins", or "Duration: 5 mins 16 seconds", or "Duration: 33 hours", etc.

I believe that if you don't have a score table where user could compare values you may drop seconds or a minutes sometimes without any harm since user will not remember exact time from the previous try, but just a more meaningful part of duration, like, "last time it took 5 hours 20 mins and now just a 3 hours and 10 mins", etc. And if you have a duration table I think that you should show a part of it so user will be able to compare his or her time with previous tries.

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yes, there will be a score table .. like your idea though – bobbyrne01 Jan 1 '13 at 22:22

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