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I'm thinking about a UI that allows users to pick an option between a day relative to "today" (and "today" moves), and an absolute date (E.g. August 20).

What are good short non-jargony sounding labels for these two options? "Relative date" seems to be a fairly accepted term, but then what would the opposite label be?

I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

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To be honest, I think that if this is for final users (e.g., non-admin users), it won't be a very good idea. Making users distinguish between relative, absolute (as Vitaly mentioned), or ranges will come with a high cognitive load, and, in the end, it will always be a range.

Consider what Tableau does

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As you can see, they use relative dates for admins, but users won't see that; they'll actually see a range.

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Users shouldn't need to calculate dates, and relative dates are exactly that: a calculation. Hence, Tableau lets high-level admins choose that relative date, but final users see a range, as it should be.

Thus, just as there shouldn't be a "Relative Date," there shouldn't be an "Absolute date." Instead, the most common approach is to use "Date" or "Date Range" with pre-defined ranges or calendars where you can choose the date range. As an example of what I say, see how Google Analytics does it:

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However...

If this is for high-end admins, then you can use the "Relative Date" label, but for an absolute date, I think the proper way is "Custom Date" (or range).

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  • Thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure I understand why the absolute date is more customized than the relative date though. Both are fully customizable. That is, you can pick any absolute date and almost any relative date in this imagined UI. Is "absolute date" just too weird a phrase to use? Jul 28, 2023 at 12:46
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Calendar date, absolute date, maybe full date.

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