# Whats the best way to present a time duration to user?

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!

• What time ranges are likely here? Hours? Days?
– JohnGB
Dec 31, 2012 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 Dec 31, 2012 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 Jan 1, 2013 at 11:19
• @greenforest +1 same for minute(s), hour(s), etc. It's really easy to find out the ending (especially in english). Jan 1, 2013 at 16:03
• @greenforest there are 8 game modes and only likely to solve in 1 move on the first mode Jan 1, 2013 at 22:19

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.

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.

• `1d 2h 23m 12s` Like this suggestion as helps user understand what each portion of the result corresponds to in relation to time Dec 31, 2012 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. Jan 1, 2013 at 16:00
• went with similiar format to screenshot i.e 00:00:00.0 Jan 3, 2013 at 2:11
• `2h 23m 12s` runs into the problem of how to deal with zeroes. How would you represent 2 hours and 1 second? `2h 0m 1s`? `2h 1s`? Both look awkward to me. Apr 1, 2022 at 8:42
• @user3932000 It depends on the context somewhat. If it's a static time that isn't changing while someone is watching it I may leave out the empty minutes. For a time that's updating while someone looks at it, I would keep the spacing even and use 2h 00m 01s so that there isn't a constant shifting of the position of the h, m, and s.
– JohnGB
Apr 3, 2022 at 10:20

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.

• yes, there will be a score table .. like your idea though Jan 1, 2013 at 22:22