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Consider an application where a user can make a list of people to meet during the day, and share that with a colleague/secretary/etc. It is something between a todo list and an actual calendar.

So when the user clicks a plus/add button, a modal shows up with a simple form with a couple of fields and a button. In the form the user can enter information about an appointment.

For designing this form, I am trying to decide between

  • A. whether to make this a multi field form, so they have to specify 1) who the meeting is with 2) what time it is 3) where it will be held, 4) topic of the meeting 5) comments, and maybe another 1-2 fields.
  • B. just make it a very simple 1-2 field form. The user can just type out whatever they want in a single field and an optional comments field and touch the button.

In the first approach, it is all very structured. This prompts the user to break down the information into specific fields. This works well for appointments where everything is decided in advance.

In many cases however the actual information may not be as clear. For instance, I am thinking of having a meeting with either X or Y (from team Z) either after lunch or before leaving the office, and the place isn't decided - either I drop by their desk or they come by my desk and maybe we go to the coffee machine or snack bar. Before actual usage, this is believed to be the more likely use case.

Putting all this ^ vagueness into a form with fixed fields can be cumbersome and places a cognitive load on the user. So is it maybe better to make the form very simplistic and let the users decide how they want to fill in the information?

So it is like the unit of activity can be considered to be either the individual appointments themselves, or more like a todo list/guide for the user.

What do the experienced designers think? How should I decide which approach might be better?

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It all depends on the user need that you are trying to satisfy. Is the product going to be used for scheduling/time management?

Is it going to help anyone if there is no time/location set?

Does the user use anything else for setting up meetings and this app that you are building serves another purpose ?

In order to make a good decision you should find out if A or B serves the user and provides user satisfaction.

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  • Yes, it is actually more like a people-to-meet-today list. So it might be good to have an extra field for the time slot. I just updated the first paragraph of the question to be more clear. – Yogesch Jun 2 at 6:16
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I tend to lean more towards the simpler form but this product isn't for me. It depends on your users and what they want to do with this information. If the end goal is to build a calendar day, then you might need more details. If it leans more towards a simple roster for the day then you could get away with the simple form.

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  • No, this is not a calendar substitute at all. – Yogesch Jun 3 at 3:58
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Agree with precious answer, you need to sort out the goals and user stories here.

One possibility is also to have a mix of your two option - start with Option B but have all the fields in A under an accordion named “add more details” or similar.

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