I have a duration field that looks like this. The user can set a time in HH:mm

enter image description here

However, in some cases the user might have to set a duration in weeks/days. This is the current design I have: enter image description here

The placeholder "ww-d" disappears when the user starts typing and it's replace with "__-_".

Is there a more intuitive and user friendly way to display a duration field that accepts a number of weeks/days? thank you.

  • so is this a field that accepts 2 kinds of structured formats? what is the placeholder to begin w/ if it's hours/minutes?
    – Mike M
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 17:34
  • The field is inside a modal window. The field accepts hours/minutes or weeks/days depending on the category of the item that is edited, so the field never switches between the 2 kinds of structured format while the modal is opened. The placeholder is "HH:mm" for hours/minutes
    – Simon Tran
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


Try helper text below, so there's no memory tax once they start entering a format.

enter image description here

Another option you can also look at is using a forgiving format pattern

This means if a user enters '2 weeks, 1 day' or '10 days' that is still recognized by the application. It's conforming the application to a human, rather than forcing the human to think in terms of data input for a machine.

From designing interfaces:

The user just wants to get something done, not think about "correct" formats and complex UIs. Computers are good at figuring out how to handle input of different types (up to a point, anyway). It's a perfect match: let the user type whatever he needs, and if it's reasonable, make the software do the right thing with it.

This might take more investment, and is not worth it at the moment, but it's an aspirational goal for UX at any time.

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