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Date-entry guidelines

Based on usability tests Travel UCD has reviewed the design for entering dates into hotel booking systems. They suggest 25 date-entry guidelines, of which many would also apply to similar types of sites.

Some highlights:
- Use dropdowns to eliminate date formatting errors
- When selecting dates from a dropdown, combine month and year in one dropdown to reduce the number of items the user has to change
- Reduce the number of times users has to switch between mouse (e.g. dropdowns) and keyboard (e.g. text entry fields)
- Default dates to the current date, unless it's not a valid date entry
- Eliminate the possibility to select a combined month and year, which has already passed
- Error check if a date exists (i.e. not 31st of February)
- Don't abbreviate months (i.e. "August" rather than "Aug")
- Use a calendar popup, but don't depend on it, since many users won't use it
- Show the day of the week corresponding to the selected date to reduce errors

Links:

  • The report Hotel Reservation Websites: Date Entry Analysis

Henrik Olsen - September 17, 2002

See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  Forms (11) 

 

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