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I have a website form in which user can enter details of a flight he wants and my website will scan flight companies to find a flight that matches user's criteria.

One of the details user should enter in the form is the period for which he wants to travel. For example, if he wants to go to vacation on anytime on June, then, my website should scan all possibilities from 1-Jun....30-Jun.

I made this UI:

          ___________________     

Start Date |___________________|

          ___________________     

End date |___________________|

However, it is not effective! Users think that this is the date of their flight and not the scan period to find an appropriate flight.

Since this is a new site and users do not really understand what this is about, if I write "Start of scan period" / "End scan period", this will still not be too clear. I want this be be clear from the UI.

Do you have any suggestions?

  • Before folks start answering, can you define "start" and "end" even more please? Is this a two way flight and both departure and return flights will occur within this period? Even if it is a one-way flight, does the take-off time and landing time both fall within the scan period? – Vivek Maharajh Jun 4 '15 at 21:40
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    "What is your earliest departure date?" _____ "How long would you like to stay for?" _____ – Vivek Maharajh Jun 4 '15 at 21:41
  • @vivek maharajh , it is a one way flight. It does not really matter if the landing is in the same period. just when the takeoff. ""What is your earliest departure date?" _____ "How long would you like to stay for?" _____" will probably not be too clear, since it does not tell the user that this is the range in which my website will scan for tickets.... – Yura Jun 7 '15 at 21:09
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    "What is your earliest departure date?" ____ "What is your latest departure date?" ______ <---- phrase you questions in the way that your users see your product, not in the way your product is implemented – Vivek Maharajh Jun 8 '15 at 18:33
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It seems like your interface layout is going to be very similar to most booking sites in regards to the calendar selection. From what you've described it sounds like you just need to label and communicate clearly to the user that the dates being selected will result in a broad search, not an exact match.

The word "scan" can be a little misleading. To better label the calendar selection my recommendations are "Favorable Flight Dates", "Flight Opportunity Range", "Find matching flights within date range". I'm sure you can come up with something suitable.

Side note - For what it's worth my favorite interface for booking flights is Google Flights. Very intuitive and clean UI.

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  • you are probably right. If I can label correctly, it will be clear for the users. I liked your suggestion "Find matching flights within date range". I would be very glad to hear if you have any other suggestions besides the ones you have offered. Thanks! – Yura Jun 7 '15 at 21:13
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The problem here as you correctly mentioned is that users are confused. Its because they might confuse with booking the ticket rather than checking the availability of the flights.

Most of the use cases are departure and return or day of flight. Your start date and end date is confused with the start of journey and return.

Proper labeling is required to communicate the intent of the functionality. Apart from that, you also need to offer more flexibility in scanning the availability of flights.

Controls:

  1. Offer a slider to select the range to scan the flights. Sliders are easy to use than the selection of start and end date which resembles the start and end of journey. Hence the confusion.
  2. Additionally offer the set of months as drop down to select the month and scan. "Let me see the flight options in July". Select July and hit scan.

Labels: The label on button is very important. The user will be scanning the range of time period to see the options available. Following can be alternatives to clearly communicate the intent.

  • "Find Flights"
  • "Scan for Flights"
  • "Show Me "
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    Depending what this site is and who it is for, your users might not want or think to search for flights by date range. For many business and vacation travelers, a date range is not a reasonable use case because time constraints are a little too rigid. When I travel, typically I have a few specific dates in mind that would work for me, and I might be willing to shift it by a day or two to get a better flight, but I am never in the situation of "find me a flight sometime in the next 2 months". Many commercial flight-finder sites deal with this by adding a "my dates are flexible" option. – Phillip Quintero Jun 5 '15 at 20:23
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    @phillip i very well understand and mentioned it in my answer that this is not typical use case. Seems not got through! Thats precisely why there is confusion among users as mentioned in question. Now due to some reason if this is what is needed than i tried to provide a mean to reduce confusion by improving labels and controls. – pzv Jun 6 '15 at 3:00
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    @Phillip Quintero, indeed, this is not a common use case, but it is exactly the use case in my situation - I want my users to select a range... – Yura Jun 7 '15 at 21:26
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    @pzv, thanks, I will think about the slider. If you have additional ideas how to communicate that this is a range, please let me know. Thank you|! – Yura Jun 7 '15 at 21:27

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