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I am designing a UI to allow users to set time-based goals.

What is more recognizable, why:

(a) >5h

(b) +5h

(c) 5h+

(d) 5h or more

This is tabular layout so saving space, consistent alignment and reducing redundancy are important.

Example:

Example

  • >5 is confusing here especially since 5 is the number I see but not enough to reach the goal. – DaveAlger Feb 9 '15 at 22:25
  • you definitely want the most critical information first. in this case it would be the number that represents success or 6 – DaveAlger Feb 9 '15 at 22:30
  • sorry I guess 5 hours and 1 second would count as greater than 5 hours. still confusing just add units and leave off the symbols 5h – DaveAlger Feb 9 '15 at 22:36
  • Is there really a "less than" part of this question? Your question title suggests you want to include "less than" but your question body only talks/asks about "greater than." I might suggest removing the "less than" part from the question title. – Cornstalks Feb 10 '15 at 5:02
  • This was a very interesting exercise. I am glad I posted the question. I believe the true underlying issue is about the strengths and weaknesses of text vs. visual means of conveying information. This was just a small piece of a bigger puzzle in the project. Every answer was helpful. Thanks all who participated. – Ken Feb 10 '15 at 16:40
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1. Leave it off altogether

Unless the directional info is important consider leaving it off. Google maps does this in their voice directions algorithm. When you need to turn in 1.6 kilometers it doesn't say in less than 2 kilometers or in a little over 1 kilometer. It simply says, in 2 kilometers. So far, not knowing the exact distance to the turn hasn't made me miss anymore than just being a bad driver has.

Another reason to leave off additional symbolism is that 9+ could equally mean 9.2 or 50 and >50 could be 50.05 or 5000.

In your specific "Goal" example I would simply put 5h instead of >5. The fact that someone can go beyond their goal's target should be obvious enough to leave the symbol off.

If you feel the need to emphasize that goals are a minimum that can safely be exceeded then try saying that in a single place below the table.

Exceeding the minimum number of hours set as your target Goal is encouraged and might possibly earn you the title of Ninja among your peers!

2. Choose an option which places the number in front

With only a single number as a reference point then all of the suggestions in the question are valid but some are better than others for the simple reason that the most critical information is the very first character:

this is good because the 5 is first

  • 5h+
  • 5h or more

this is not as good

  • >5h
  • over 5 hours

3. Use a plus sign (+) at the end of a changing counter

When people see 9+ or 99+ in a badge icon they can usually infer that the UI is trying to save space by handling all possible cases in 2 or 3 digits.

For example, when showing the number of appointments scheduled today 9 could be a reasonable maximum but 99 is probably a safer choice. Not many people will have 99 appointments in one day so 99+ is okay to show to handle the few special cases.

  • Overall great advice. I'll factor the feedback in to my testing plan. Thanks. – Ken Feb 9 '15 at 23:36
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Why not write it out in words? It's not much longer, there's no room for misinterpretation, and you're not requiring the user to interpret what you mean.

For example, if you question is "How long will this task take you?" Your option to the user would be "more than 5 hours"

  • 2
    While I agree, being in able it gets really busy with 10 rows of "more than X hours" when the most valuable data element is the actual number. So I fear the UI would get noisy. – Ken Feb 9 '15 at 21:56
  • If each option in the list will be "more than", then you could have a header for the entire list or work it into your question in a way that you don't have to write it out for every item. For example, "Will this task take you more than..." (and then your options would be a) 5 hours b) ten hours, etc. – Lauren Dankiewicz Feb 9 '15 at 22:48
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Each of the examples you've given could be considered more recognizable depending on the scenario:

a) This indicates a relation between 2 numbers - x is greater than 5. Although it's similar to option d) in it's meaning you haven't provided x which makes it a little ambiguous. I'd also suggest that it's less easily read by users who are not used to reading math notation.

b and c) Are commonly used to denote an increase from x to the current value. For example if your initial estimate was 10hrs, this would denote a total of 15hrs

d) As mentioned above, is similar to a), but being more semantic I'd suggest it's easier to read, there is no missing x here either. However, if you're putting this in a table, repeating 'or more' in lots of rows could clutter the data you're presenting.

If you can provide a bit more context it'll be easier to give a more definite answer.


After your comments, how about something like this?

enter image description here

Colour coding the Goal with (for example) red or green to show a positive or negative connotation would make it even clearer. (Maybe that's what the green circles are in your image?)

Perhaps this order of columns is clearer if you're comparing actual time to Group Average (Benchmark)?

  • Added an example UI. There is a key defining the various symbols not pictured. – Ken Feb 9 '15 at 22:03
  • Thanks, how do Value and Benchmark relate to the Goal? – shahar Feb 9 '15 at 22:06
  • Value is the actual time spent. Goal is the intended threshold (more/less than) and Benchmark is the average of a group. – Ken Feb 9 '15 at 22:12
  • -7 does not communicate "less than 7" very well since the default reading will be "minus 7". – benjaminjosephw Feb 9 '15 at 22:31
  • Perhaps I misunderstood the intention, I thought it was to show a target variation from the Group Average (Benchmark), @Ken, is that correct? – shahar Feb 9 '15 at 22:33
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I'm assuming you are wanting to refer to "greater than or equal to"?

If so, you have 5 options.

The 4 you mentioned, and >=5

So from the get go, we can rule out >5 and "greater than 5 hours", for being factually incorrect.

We can rule out +5h, because that has an existing definition, to mean, 'add 5 hours', as in GMT+5

Three answers: >=5h, 5h+ and "greater than or equal to 5 hours" are objectively correct.

5h+ jumps out as being the shortest and the clearest there.

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