** UPDATED with picture

Below is a simple mockup for a spending tracker mobile app (for frequent travelers) that i built. Each of the 3 gray boxes are inputs (name, amount, currency). A sample input would be "lunch", "12.75", "dollars". All three are necessary for my app and they must be in that order.

I am considering the following options/variations on the user interface, and want to get some opinions. (each option below gets a little more innovative than the previous)

  1. Each input box is a text box, and the user can input free form. The middle input for "amount" is a decimal pad (for only numbers).

  2. The first and last input boxes are combo boxes. They have a little triangle button at the end of the input box that indicates you can get a pull down with possible values. Also, if you choose to type, this list will get filtered.

  3. I am considering using a UIPickerView (iOS), which is the wheel selector interface on the iPhone. It looks like a casino slot machine interface. The urbanspoon app is famous for using this interface. I like it because it is so intuitive and you scroll through suggestions, then stop on the one you want. however, i'll have to code a custom row that you can input your own name.

  4. Typeahead/autocomplete. I don't like this because the user has to type in common categories all the time.

  5. I'm thinking of creating a new intuitive interface that is similar to the wheel selector described above. It will look like a regular textField. But it will have indicator arrows above and below the textField. When you touch the textField, a wheel selector fades into view. I'm not going to use the standard wheel selector provided by iOS. I'm going to create one that is slightly translucent, and seems to fade away further it is from the actual textbox. You can scroll through suggestions, then stop on the one you want. Note that the keyboard will display, since you can edit the textField. Once you close the keyboard, the wheel selector will fade away, and you're left with a plain textField with indicators that you can scroll if you touch the textField.

The typical use case is as follows: The user will type in freeform the first few times. Then the user will likely choose from his/her most common categories.

What are people's reactions to my potential options?

enter image description here

  • 4
    If you post a link to your image on a image hosting service I would gladly edit it into your posting for you. Welcome to UX.SE.
    – kontur
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 8:01
  • 1
    You should have sufficient reputation now, please post a screenshot or a link to the image as Kontur asked
    – Mervin
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 18:52
  • thanks so much kontur for the offer. i updated with picture. unfortunately, i don't have a picture of the new interface that i want to create. i'm actually not a designer, but a coder, so i wouldn't be able to mock it up quickly.
    – Ed Chin
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


It's difficult to fully answer without being able to see and interact with the new UI you propose. It may be great, though in the absence of seeing it I would advise you against creating new interfaces. Although they may seem intuitive to you, such interfaces by definition break interface consistency with the target platform and may confuse users for this very reason.

One pattern you might try is typeahead/autocomplete. I really like the typeahead provided in Bootstrap because it doesn't just match against the beginning of the string. Not being an iOS user, I'm not sure if there is a similar convention or pattern on that platform, but I would start there. Even if there's nothing native, it seems likely users would adjust quickly to the autocomplete/typeahead patterns given their prevalence on the internet.

  • autocomplete is not a bad option. i put it in my post to hear what people think. i prefer the wheel selector over that, but i can't articulate why. can UX designers tell me why I would pick one over the other?
    – Ed Chin
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 20:00
  • Without much more comments and answers from others, I want to award you with the answer. I think you bring a good suggestion. I also realize that my thinking may be too complicated on the matter. I think you bring a good point about new interfaces. Thanks.
    – Ed Chin
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 4:51

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