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I'm working on an app that has to do with cryptocurrencies and there are times where I'm showing prices for very small amounts of almost worthless cryptocurrencies. For example, I'm showing the price for 0.002 GDB, which right now would be worth about $0.000040236. My problem is though, that currently the app simply shows $0.00, but to a user that doesn't make sense, because it's not actually $0.00. It's just really close to $0.00. So, my question is how I should actually show it? I've thought about maybe doing something like ≈$0.00. Or maybe just ∼$0.00. I don't have the option to show the whole amount, because the space it fits in is kind of small. What's the best way to represent it?

EDIT 1: So, in response to a request about more information, we're a company that generates tax forms and does other tax calculations. This is in a breakdown of cost basis line items. So, they're probably expecting accuracy, but I don't know how many will actually want to drill down and check all our calculations, if that makes sense.

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< $0.01 might be another option to consider.

It uses the "less than" symbol, which is possibly more familiar to people than the "almost equal to" symbol. However, it may require a bit more processing to understand, as it's showing a value that is further from the actual value it represents (0.01 vs 0.00).

So how can we decide between ≈$0.00, ∼$0.00, or <$0.01?

User testing!

A simple poll might give you the best indication for what your users expect or prefer. I'm not sure if there's a definite right or wrong answer for the format you pick, but there could be a preference that you discover after testing.

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  • I really like the idea to do <$0.01. I might think of a nice/pretty way to display the less than sign to make it easier to process. Thanks! – Ethan Brouwer Nov 21 '19 at 19:16
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This is a really great question. However, I think we need more information about the actual experience you're trying to build to give you an adequate answer.

I'd start by thinking about your users' goals. Are your use cases dependent on precision? Are they trying to analyze a massive list of these tiny amounts of currency? In many foreign exchange applications, these little amounts matter immensely. In those cases, rounding and approximation are totally inadequate.

If the goal does not depend on seeing a precise representation of these values in the system, rounding may be a great way to reduce visual noise.

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  • I added more details of what I'm working on, but I like your comments in general too. – Ethan Brouwer Nov 21 '19 at 19:15

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