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The main goal is to the user be select dates or a range of dates in a table.

The day doesn't really matter much, while the year and the month does because it's the time between the analysis of the patient.

Background I really would love to use a Pivot Table but the project limitations for minimum requirements won't allow me to do so. (Needs to run on Java 7@Windows XP 32bits) yes, those are the computers they still use on the Hospital. The users have a lot of difficulties to get familiarized with GUIs (they are medics).

The one I used in the first prototype was:

enter image description here

But, it is much more focused on the day instead of allowing to choose a year or a month easily.

Since the number of dates in the range for the user to pick from is limited ( normally around 10~25 dates)

What I was thinking is something like this:

enter image description here

Where if the user check just one, it would mean after that it would shows everything after that date, and if the user select two (as in the picture) it would show everything in the range.

But I am not sure about this style, so I tried to think in another one:

enter image description here

Which would be easier for the user to understand?

If you have another thing in mind, please answer, I will appreciate every feedback.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

In my experience if you want them to focus on something, you need to make it as clear as possible. If you are looking to have them focus on the month, then you should focus on the month directly.

Comparing your two examples, the second one is far, far easier to understand, but I would definitely use the full month names, instead of dates. I think the month drop down being numbers is a bit more confusing.

I would also order it MONTH - YEAR instead of YEAR - MONTH. Generally Smaller -> Bigger is easier to understand. I would also include a header above each drop down for what that column is.

I generally approve of the drop down concept, but you could also (If you feel like going the extra mile.) Consider a more graphical element. Have the years laid out, with months in boxes, and have users pick a start month and an end month on a multi-year calendar. Imagine a multi-year calendar, 12 boxes for each year, have them light up once selected, and use the selected range for your data. Think something like your first example, but for months instead of days.

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+1 for your last idea, but not sure I agree that it is better to put the month first. If a user is picking massive date ranges spanning years (as mentioned in the question) they are likely to think of the year they want first. –  Franchesca Jun 21 at 5:28
1  
Also +1 for the last idea; that was my first thought as well. @Franchesca Adding to the last idea here, if only some months have "selectable" dates, you could display a multiyear calendar and adjust the color for months that have data in them - and still allow the user to select arbitrary ranges, but give them a visual indication of what months are actually significant. –  Jason C Jun 21 at 7:23
    
Definitely year then month. In fact, your last idea does just that -- pick a year and then have the months within boxes. –  Bill Dagg Jul 3 at 16:22

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