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I'm trying to create a better experience in a mobile application that tracks a users fitness activity. When looking at a calendar-view, the user will 1 of 3 options:

  1. A Colored Dot - Indicates the user reached their goal
  2. A Colorless Dot - Indicates the user missed their goal
  3. No Dot - Indicates no data was captured that day because the user wasn't wearing a tracking device or had their phone off

My question is: Is it worth showing all 3 states, or would it be better to 2 states, the colored dot and a colorless dot for the last two scenarios of missing the goal and having no data? Below is a screenshot for reference.

enter image description here

  • Does not having data for that day mean they missed their goal? Does not having a dot mean there wasn't a goal for that day? – Tory Oct 14 '16 at 14:47
  • No dot means they didn't wear their tracking device, so there was no data recorded. – Perry Oct 14 '16 at 16:54
  • So you have to have data recorded in order to have a goal set for that day? – Tory Oct 14 '16 at 18:44
  • I would avoid using red for the days where the goal was met, to many red indicates error or failure. Eg when I look at the pic I presume all the red days are the ones that the goal wasn't met. – scunliffe Oct 15 '16 at 1:58
  • @Tory sort of. The goal is always set, say 3,000 steps a day. The device you wear tracks your steps throughout the day and syncs to the app. If you hit it, red dot. If not, gray. If the device didn't record anything for whatever reason (i.e. not wearing it), then no dot because no data – Perry Oct 15 '16 at 5:34
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I am from the opinion that a good display of information should mirror reality and not make it's own or leave things vague.

Consider this case:

I forgot my tracking device but I did exercise that day, your 2 state display will miss it whereas a 3 state one wouldn't, so I do consider it worthy.

  • How would an app know if you exercised without wearing a device? – Eric Stoltz Oct 14 '16 at 19:03
  • It wouldn't, the responsibility would rest on the user to remember he/she exercised and to input it, or the app to nag him upon reconnecting. This I think is a separate issue. – Keno Oct 14 '16 at 20:10
  • @EricStoltz it knows from the software and firmware speaking to each other. The app monitors the bluetooth connection and syncs the devices regularly. If it can't make the connection or sync it assumes they were never connected. But like Keno said, that's irrelevant – Perry Oct 15 '16 at 5:17
  • @Keno considering your answer more, we already do this with our devices/apps. The device keeps track of all your activity and will add it on the next sync. We don't currently allow the user to input data manually, but it's on the roadmap. However, I do agree that visually, the data should mirror reality and avoid any unknowns without making it clear to users. – Perry Oct 15 '16 at 5:32
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I think green for accomplished dates and grey / faded green? / half filled faded green? for not accomplished is fair.

For days with no data, you can keep blank and fade out the day number as well. So all blanks with faded numbers = no data. Whether in the past or the future.

Try different variations and do a quick user test.

  • Same thing I said on another comment: our app is more complex than I'm revealing...we have 3 different tracking features that each have a calendar view: Fitness, Sleep, and custom Goals. Each one is represented by a different color: Red, Blue, and Green respectively. Since we're already using green for the Goals month view, we're trying to avoid it! We have no other need to use green in the app to reinforce positive behaviour, which is why we used it elsewhere. However, I do like the idea of using the numbers as visual indicators. I'll try that, thanks! – Perry Oct 15 '16 at 5:23
  • Do fitness, sleep and custom goals ever appear in the same calendar simultaneously? – Nicolas Hung Oct 17 '16 at 12:43
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How about green dots for goal achieved, red dots for goal missed, and greyed out dot for your 3rd state?

Green and red are universal colors for pass/fail, should be understood by anyone. If its important to you to indicate a difference between a failure and an inaction, then use three colors for the three possible states.

  • Good suggestion. However, our app is more complex than I'm revealing...we have 3 different tracking features that each have a calendar view: Fitness, Sleep, and custom Goals. Each one is represented by a different color: Red, Blue, and Green respectively. Since we're already using green for the Goals month view, we're trying to avoid it! We have no other need to use green in the app to reinforce positive behaviour, which is why we used it elsewhere. Guess it was a bad idea :( – Perry Oct 15 '16 at 5:22

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