Ayatana Sound Menu

2 Mockups in reaction to Mark’s post, this other mockup and also Troy’s interesting but wordy article.

I think the prioritization based on assumed frequency of use should be as follows:

  • Mute All
  • Volume
  • Play/Pause
  • Skip Forward
  • Preferences
  • Set Position (via slider)
  • Skip Backward

I left out Choose Playlist, because bringing up the player window could well be  more convenient than using a sub-menu and the menu is rather crowded. I’m least sure about Set Position, it’s another candidate to be dropped.

There are 3 scopes in the menu:

  • global,
  • per player and
  • per track.

While Preferences is of low priority (one could argue for leaving it out entirely), placing it at the bottom while all other global elements are at the top is problematic. So I chose top right to have one nice block with global controls.

The transport controls belong to the player, not the track, since playing on or Skip Forward will lead to the next track. This is a reason against putting them to the side of the track/album art. Note that my Skip buttons are in reverse of the usual order. That’s good regarding prioritization, but bad regarding breaking common patterns.

Placing track attributes to the right of the track/album art could look better, but the the menu should be much wider to avoid ellipsis or wrapping, then. Given how attention grabbing pictures can be, it should be considered to leave the art out, or to show it in something to a sub-menu.

There should be a clear differentiation between controls to interact with and static elements. One option would be a different background like above, another a different color like below.

This volume slider design allows to use the full width as active area for best control. There would be countless styling options, of course, this is just a rough one. I much prefer sliders that allow dragging on the entire area, instead of making you aim at some tiny button. Middle-click could be use to make the value jump to the pointer position.

About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

5 Responses to Ayatana Sound Menu

  1. jani says:

    Does the text ‘Rhythmbox’ need to be displayed as well? It is not very relevant there.

    • thorwil says:

      It’s not just a label, but actually a menu item that brings up the player’s window. Not to forget that there can be several player sections.

  2. Is this going to be an option? Or is it going to be forced on all of us? Because I want my sound control to be just sound.

  3. Flattered I got a hat tip here Thorwil. And sorry about the post length. Those that care will read. Those that don’t, won’t.

    I’d take issue, or rather, serious ask for some further thinking on:

    “The transport controls belong to the player, not the track, since playing on or Skip Forward will lead to the next track. This is a reason against putting them to the side of the track/album art”

    Sure they belong to the player. As they control a system library. As they control a device driver. As they etc…

    Does it matter?

    Think specifically about audience on this front. If we pick a random smattering, I’d be willing to bet [CITATION NEEDED] that a majority doesn’t care about it.

    What does the forward / next relate to for them? Can we allow for a greater inference of meaning by associating them via proximity?

    So as I see it, I see two sets of design constraints:

    1) Panel. What is the context? What sort of information should reasonably be presented within the panel? We have a historical context here as well as a simple fact that it has size / dimension constraints. Fundamental question: What goes here and what is outside of scope and more intended for a main application?

    2) Who? Who is this design for? Based on that, we need to boil down those features. What, given the constraints in (1) above are suitable? I’d agree wholeheartedly with playlist, but again, that is an acknowledged guess. So Play, Next, and previous. As another guess, I wonder how much value there is in a scrubber / position?

    Given (1) and (2), I’d forward a more secret one as:

    (3) What are they wanting to do? What is a desire / need? Do they want ‘another shot’ from a similar artist? Do they want another track from a similar genre? Are they not in the mood for heavy metal right now and would prefer their jazz?

    And that doesn’t even begin to deal with the aesthetic presentation…

    Again, sorry about the response length,

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