So I am working on a form and one of the inputs have proved in user-testing to be somewhat problematic:

We want to save the frequency of a periodic event, the event is how often a report is to be submitted, in our database we will save a numeric value that is describing times-per-year.

It can be both more and less than one time per year, so in the event of every fourth year, the value we want to save is "0,25" and for four times per year it is "4".

In a previous form we asked the user to calculate the number themselves, in use this has proven to be difficult for the users.

We have tested a solution with two input fields, one for the frequency and one for number of year: X times per Y years (where X and Y is the input fields.) In a user-test with 4 users, we had only one solve this relatively without issues and 2 did not solve it at all when asked to input "once every second year".

Samle form input when input is once every second year

Any suggestions for other ways to have the user input the requested data?

Thanks, Roy

3 Answers 3


I think the problem is the approach. You are providing the user a method of selection that makes it easy for the devs to calculate the frequency.

But that data isn't relevant to the user. Why not give them the option to just pick options like

Weekly - Biweekly - Monthly - Quarterly - Yearly - Custom

and in the custom, provide two boxes. One for occurrence and the other for repetition frequency like the once you have shown in the question.

  • Thank you for your suggestion, It is mainly those in "Custom" that is difficult for the users, I will still take your suggestion to the team and discuss it. - Thank you.
    – RoyHF
    Mar 20, 2019 at 14:29
  • So we decided on this method, it is not a perfect fix, but allows the user to quickly select from a list of standardized phrases, adding a "other" or "custom" choice as the last option that will allow the user to input using our previous method, we move the two input fields into a single line so that the "sentence" is formed without line-break.
    – RoyHF
    Apr 3, 2019 at 9:09

Is it correct that there are only two choices:

  1. Onece in N years.
  2. Each year N times.

If so, depending on your whole design approach you may make different implementations of asking this. For example:

  • A kind of miniform where the first field is dropdown 'Once in several years/Several times in one year'. After selecting by user next field may change caption from 'Number of years' to 'Number of times per year'
  • Check box group where selecting one or another option will enable correspondent numeric input control.
  • Etc.

If you love your users you may make even third option - 'Once a year'. As you can see this option could be specified as 'Once in 1 year' as well as 'Each year 1 time' - this could make some users stuck.


Try Calendar.app on a Mac. It's a great example of creating complex repeat events

Calendar.app screenshot

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