I have a website that keeps track of oranges OR apples. Is it better that I ask or just show the input.

Is the green text needed?

enter image description here

It's a 50/50 that they'll have oranges or apples, so I would need to show both inputs at once.

I'm dealing with very beginner users here, if they don't see where to put in their apples, they may not know what to do.

  • Is there a reason why you have sign in for oranges?
    – UXerUIer
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:47
  • 3
    @majo0od Yes, but it's complicated, necessary and not related to what I'm asking.
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    Based on your wireframe, it seems like a "choose your path" type moment, with potentially significant difference between the results of each choice. Without knowing what the user already knows at this point, and what their expectation is for each option, it's hard to offer an opinion on the specifics of the UI.
    – TMiller
    Feb 25, 2015 at 17:14
  • go check out what hipmunk.com did in a similar situation. The user who lands on their page has to choose flights or hotels. They show a hint of the needed input, and expand the relevant box according to the user's choice. If not a straight answer, it sure would give some inspiration.
    – Dvir Adler
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:24

5 Answers 5


Thought I might login some fruits as well :)

Having clear and descriptive labels is always recommended. So to answer your question directly: Yes you should ask as an input field with a more generic label invites ambiguity. Placing a clear label (in this case questions) above each control helps establish clear relationship between what you are asking for and the means by which it could be provided.

The second aspect you need to take into concideration is how the questions are formulated: If input fields can only accept apples and oranges (which I assume is the case) then the questions will need to reflect that, gain clarity and be focused on the task.

enter image description here

From your comment that suggests that your target audience had initially difficulties identifying what an input field is! Then, it honestly seems to me that this is an educational challenge and should be treated as one. So I would suggest the following to achieve best results:

  1. Language used: aligned with your users expectations and understanding.
  2. Emphasis:Bold text where relevant.
  3. Repetition: structure of question should be the same for apples and oranges.
  4. Illustration: via easily recognisable icons or images to reinforce labelling.
  5. Form Narrative : Make the form tell a story!

  6. Test and refine

  • So, you think it's ok if I ask the user a question? That's what I was asking in my original question "Is it better that I ask or just show the input."
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:12
  • @alanj absolutely yes! Will update my answer to emphasize this.
    – Okavango
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:20
  • 1
    @Okavanago, what software have you used to create this graphic? Feb 26, 2015 at 2:26
  • @PaulThompson I used Axure!
    – Okavango
    Feb 26, 2015 at 7:44

Why not do something like this, since it's and either or situation. I'm not too sure why you have the login bit for what appears to me to be the same action:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • If there are only two choices, I'd use radio buttons rather than a dropdown, so both options are visible when the user loads the page.
    – Racheet
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:50
  • That could also be an option. That depends if the user will have apples at a given time then oranges at another given time.
    – UXerUIer
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:53
  • 2
    This seems like more unnecessary actions to me. I'm dealing with very, very basic users - they have had trouble identifying what an input field is in the past. I would like to avoid clicking to display something.
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:53
  • That would be nice to incorporate in your question @alanj
    – UXerUIer
    Feb 25, 2015 at 17:00
  • @Majo0od Thanks, I realize now. I've updated my question.
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 17:01

Is there any reason that this is not a two step process?

Step one:

Show a screen asking "What do you have?" Display two choices side-by-side with pictures and make them clearly click-able Upon clicking either apples or oranges, proceed to step two

Step two:

  • If apples then show a box with instruction "Please specify how many apples you have in the box below:"

  • If oranges then show the instructions "You must login before you can specify how many oranges you have"

    • Provide a Login button
    • Display a login page within a modal box if possible
    • Upon logging in, hide the modal, and update your interface without refreshing the page
    • You definitely do not want them wandering away if they are answering such important and life-changing questions!
  • This is great, but I'm asking about the language that I'm using. Do you think it would be better if I asked something more vague like "What do you have?"
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:11
  • @alanj it really depends... are your users expected to be aware that your site is expecting them to be there for either apples or oranges? If someone has apples, are they even aware of what oranges are and that other users may be turning up there to manage their oranges? Will your site be able to help them if they are not there for either apples or oranges? If the latter is a no, then it makes sense to be explicit - you're either here for apples or you're here for oranges or you're in the wrong place. Figure out which first, then move on.
    – J...
    Feb 26, 2015 at 9:45

While the green text in your wireframe isn't strictly necessary, I think it is worth including for the sake of clarity. They provide clear calls-to-action and make it clear that there are two separate routes. To look at it another way, on balance, there are no significant costs to usability by including those headings but there are benefits. I also agree that it is best to display both options at once for the sake of simplicity and since there is no sensible default.


Showing both options is going to increase friction and decrease entry

If apple people are more likely to hit the orange login button then only show apple input and a tiny link at the bottom saying "I don't have apples what do I do?" which will take them to a separate login page for oranges.

If orange people repeatedly try and enter the number of apples they have then only show the orange login fields and a link saying, "Click here if you don't have oranges"

  • I know you are set on having both options showing at all times on the entry page but I can promise you that by only showing the Apple input more of your "one time" users will successfully get in. -- The orange "login users" will bookmark the new login page over time and if not will certainly find the link since they won't have an apple code to enter.
    – DaveAlger
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:59
  • this is great, but i'm asking about the language used. I asked "Is it better that I ask or just show the input." I know that my users are going to have a hard time finding tiny links.
    – alanj
    Feb 25, 2015 at 22:09
  • With only a single input you almost don't need any text at all. Google and almost every big company that does lots of actual user testing adds a small link at the bottom of their login screen to help anyone who can't get in. You can say you know but until you try it you really don't. Good luck in trying to simplify a process you admit is confusing by adding more stuff on the page. I'll stop trying to get you to try and simplify your entry page.
    – DaveAlger
    Feb 26, 2015 at 3:31

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