Trying to find some basic info on when to enable a sliders track and when to disable the track so users have to click-drag the slider thumb.

Thank you for any help or resources!


Why not both?

Some users will want to do one, some will do the other. There's no clear scenario I can think of where disabling single-tap (the more efficient interaction) is necessary.

Unless you have clear data from your users in your app that says you need to either slow them down or prevent errant taps, don't disable it.

Make targets obvious

Whether dragging or tapping, it's helpful to users to clearly see the increments of the range. This aids the user in dragging to the desired value and makes tap targets self-evident. Since a slider usually shouldn't be used for fine-grained values anyway (see the article below), these target increments can be fairly large.

General slider advice

This NN/g article on the subject discusses the fundamental issues of slider controls. Oddly, it doesn't mention anything about tapping vs dragging — presumably because it's an assumed feature of the control. The big takeaway there:

If picking an exact value is important to the goal of the interface, choose an alternate UI element.


Scrollbar interactions:

  1. Click on an end button to increment or decrement the value by one unit
  2. Click on the track to increment or decrement the value by a larger amount (maybe ten units or ten percent)
  3. Drag the thumb to change the value to any value

Slider interactions:

  1. Click on the track to change the value to any value
  2. Drag the thumb to change the value to any value

You should choose the one that has the most appropriate interactions for your application, and disable one of these interactions only if it makes no sense for the user to ever want to do it in your application.

If it's a touch enabled application and there isn't enough room for the user to reliably control a scrollbar with their fat fingers then you may prefer a slider for its simplicity of use. On the other hand, a scrollbar is more useful if the user might actually want to increment the value by a precise amount.

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