Hidden UI

A couple of days ago, I discovered that the space where my iTunes playlists were supposed to appear had gone totally blank. Freaking out a bit, I quit and relaunched iTunes. No joy. Restarted the computer. No joy. Started digging around in plist files with no luck. Web searches turned up nothing useful.

Today, discovered by accident that if you hover your mouse over the Genius or Playlists section header in the nav, the word “Show” appears. It’s a show/hide UI element without the traditional disclosure triangle. The user is given no clue before rollover that there’s even an element there to click. Since I hadn’t hidden the playlists intentionally, I had no idea it was even possible.

I wonder how many users accidentally hide their playlists and never get them back, or end up calling AppleCare or heading for the Genius Bar for help. A very un-Apple like UI decision, IMO.

Coincidentally, I recently spent time at work solving an almost identical UI problem, going the extra mile to make sure users didn’thave to roll over an area to find hidden controls. Maybe we should have gone the Apple route on this one? I don’t think so.