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I'm creating an interface for help desk solution where users must define an urgency and impact for the case they are creating.

I thought about a slider like this Smiley Slider but the smiley doesn't convey the notion of impact nor urgency.

How would you convey these concepts and design the UX?

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I'd suggest that most users wouldn't know the difference between urgency and impact, and, even if you clearly defined it, may not care. I have certainly told someone once that a task I'd asked him to do was "urgent but not important", but I sincerely doubt that most people would be willing to categorize themselves and/or their requests in that way. You might use a smiley slider in conjunction with "# of people impacted" slider that goes from "just me" to "everyone in the [floor/department/building/company]". – Karen Dec 14 '11 at 18:35
<blink> tags. – Ben Brocka Dec 15 '11 at 3:32
@BenBrocka I may have problems with epileptic users :) – jpsstavares Dec 15 '11 at 9:13
I do hope you didn't think I was serious :P – Ben Brocka Dec 15 '11 at 14:21

Dreamhost does a nice job of this. I think their simple dropdown options are well written and say a lot. The key factors are that they try to capture 1) your mood, and 2) your level of expertise.

If a newbie is freaking out and mad, they feel more urgency than a sysadmin who needs a reset, even though the sysadmin may have bigger problems in the grand scheme of things. And it's comforting to know you can communicate your freakout as a standard option.

enter image description here

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Off-topic: The examples in the image made me lol. – Anonymous Dec 15 '11 at 16:51

Find catch phrases that your userbase can relate to within your system.

For example, if you are running a Q&A for cat owners, urgency levels could be:

  • kitteh is curious
  • grumpy if not fed
  • stripping out curtains

I know these are lame, I may post better examples when I get some rest, but I think I convey the message (you know what I did here) and the increasing level of urgency is aparent (or maybe not)

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I like the idea of using catch phrases. But I have a small area for the form and I'll give priority to some form of symbolic representation. As a last resort I'll use some comboboxs with catch phrases. – jpsstavares Dec 15 '11 at 9:30

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