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I am working on a public transit app for Android. Look at the screenshot - the button with a wrench icon opens advanced options. In advanced options you can set which transport mode to use (bus, tram, metro, ...) and things like that.

1) Do you have an idea for a more suitable icon (I was told that the current one looks like application settings)?

2) What about implementing advanced options differently?

3) Any other feedback about the screenshot?

alt text

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closed as not constructive by Benny Skogberg MCSA, JonW May 19 '12 at 7:52

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What's the icon above the "T" in "Today"? –  jensgram Nov 22 '10 at 8:04
    
Depart at / arrive at switcher –  fhucho Nov 22 '10 at 22:35
    
I'd question 'mode of transport' being an 'advanced' option. –  DA01 Dec 1 '10 at 15:53
    
@DA01 why? I live in Prague and never had a need to change modes of transport when planning journey. But I got several mails from Londoners that they want this feature - which I found suprising. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:34
    
I suppose it could be regional in terms of frequency of use. But I was more referring to the term 'advanced'. The mode of transport seems to be a key setting for the user. I'd call it more of a 'settings' option rather than an 'advanced' option. –  DA01 Dec 1 '10 at 20:30

6 Answers 6

First off, I'm with ThomPete. /product manager hat/ Are you sure you really NEED advanced settings? Not saying you shouldn't do it, but are you certain there is a need for more than you are currently showing? If there is a need to have the advanced view, then is there truly a need for the simple view, or can you take a subset of the advanced view options and the simple view and have a single view that accomplishes your goal? /product manager hat off/

However if you do have a need for two separate views, why use an icon at all? Showing the word removes any chance of misinterpretation with fairly minimal impact to spacing. I can think of two ways to accomplish this off the top of my head.

  • If your "advanced" view simply adds options to the current view, the left mockup shows how you can use a simple button that toggles the display of those additional options. I would also hope the button would be different enough from the Find Journey button so that the user wouldn't click the wrong one by mistake.

  • If the "advanced" view is truly a separate view of the search fields (where you're replacing what is on the page), then a toggle selector that indicates the current view state as shown in the right mockup should get the point across.

more options alternate view

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I definitely need advanced options. It won't be used very often but substantial part of my users want it. There are 2 reasons why separate view for advanced options is better - 1) it would make the home screen more complicated and therefore less pleasant to use 2) you'll have to scroll down to click on search button - the button could also have fixed position above the bottom bar (that will be there later) but that would look ugly. The first mockup is something similar to what I will maybe do. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:08

What about having a button with ellipsis (three dots) inside for the additional search options?

If the widget next to "Depart at" is on/off switcher, it should be bigger and have more spacing around it.

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Very good idea, I'll maybe do that. Small switcher - I was aware of that problem from the beginning but - 1) it's not used often 2) if it was bigger it wouldn't look good 3) I plan to integrate that switch into unified time / date dialog (unfortunately Android doesn't have time + date dialog now :-( ). –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:17
    
When the switcher widget is that small, it's more difficult to touch it. –  Aidas Bendoraitis Dec 2 '10 at 14:59

Perhaps you are asking this question the wrong way.

It's unclear if you have both a normal settings and advanced settings. But if your advanced settings (the button you show) is where settings are then there is no need to change it.

If on the other hand you have both a normal setting and an advanced setting then you should probably think about what the advanced settings allow you to do rather than whether it's advanced settings.

Personally I wouldn't do advanced settings but simply settings since it's a mobile app.

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I have both global settings and search options. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 15:50
    
Global settings are for the whole app not only search. There will be more features besides from search. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:13

If you want to keep it small, you could use an icon for the current selection and a drop down arrow to indicate there are more options (or an up arrow, given that location).

I have no good idea for an "any" icon, though. A common system here would be a ring interupted by miniscule dots indicating the different types, but that works only if you've seen it in large once.

Alternately or in addition, you could give refinement options in the results page.

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+1 on refinement options! –  Roman Nurik Nov 22 '10 at 15:48
    
With refinement options in the results, 2 requests to the server would have to be made. The user hits "Search", waits for about 15 seconds, changes options and waits for another 15 secs. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:29
    
@fhucho: Good point when bandwith is limited or expensive. Yet, most users got used to search being iterative / incremental. It's close to human behavior: "Hand me that cup - yes, the blue one". –  peterchen Dec 2 '10 at 11:19

As ChrisF mentioned, a gear is your other option than a wrench, but I think either would be fine. There isn't enough of a conceptual difference between options and settings that it should matter too much.

As for your UI, it looks good, but I have two suggestions.

  • Make your buttons the same width in total as your inputs.
  • Color the 'Find Journey' button so that it stands out a little more.
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Thanks but I don't agree ;-). First point - personally I don't think it would look better. Second point - you can't set specific button color in Android, you have to create custom button which I don't want to do. Besides that I think the button stands out enough. –  fhucho Dec 1 '10 at 16:23

A gear/cog is often used for settings, but it might also suffer from the same problem as the spanner and be associated with the application settings rather than the search settings.

You don't say what other options they can select - but one alternative could be to have the most recently used option on the main screen with a button to select other ones. So if "mode of transport" was the last used it would have a car/train/bus icon and then perhaps an arrow to the others.

Apart from that it looks like a clean UI which is always a good thing.

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