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I am working on a new page in my companies application where it will be showing a table of staff requests for a manager to action. The table will include a column with the date that the request was sent to the manager, and another column with the date that the request relates to.

When the manager looks at the date that the request came in, they are likely going to be comparing this to internal deadlines, for example, "they need to send these requests two weeks in advance, so I need to check the request was sent before the 1st September", or, "which of these two employees sent their request first?". For this column the most important thing to the manager is the date (e.g. "1st") and the time the request was sent.

For the other column with the request details, the manager will be interested mostly in the day of the week (e.g. "Monday") with a secondary interest on the date (e.g. "1st") to double check which week the request relates to.

Therefore, my instinct tells me that these two dates need slightly different formatting, as the manager does not care about the day of the week that the request was sent in. I don't really want to include the day of the week in the first column, but it will be essential information for the other column.

Is it a better user experience to have consistency on this page and have the two dates in the same format? Or is it better to think about each use case separately and have two different date formats on the same page?

Thanks.

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This is a very unique use case. While consistency is at the core of good UX, context awareness is also necessary when dealing with applications that have a very specific use case.

A good UX works on a singular way of doing any action and attempts to reduce the learning required to operate the application. I'd like to argue that consistency should be favored over context in most cases.

One likely solution that can balance both is to keep consistent date formats across, but highlight the 'Day' on the second column by using a heavier font weight. I think scanning past a couple words doesn't make enough of a case to justify breaking the consistency.

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Therefore, my instinct tells me that these two dates need slightly different formatting, as the manager does not care about the day of the week that the request was sent in.

There are some assumptions in this story, including this point about "need." You've decided what is important to the end user.

How do you know what is important to them? Have you tested that assumption? Any reason you can't try to?

Good design is reductive. You should work harder to try and disprove your own assumptions, especially when your instincts compel you to try and add 2 different ways of doing the same thing.

  • I have spoken to the users and done research and testing with them to understand what information they want on the screen, which bits of information are most important to them, and to make sure the general layout and flow of the page (and product) works for them and is usable. What we established was that they were happy with the table of information, and that they would need to see (amongst other things) the information mentioned above. What I didn't specifically ask them, is if they would prefer the same date formats or different date formats. – Christina Sep 13 '17 at 9:04

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