I have a client who's using a table to present several row of data. The data has one row showing how often certain activities should be performed.

It looks something like this:

|  Name   |   Frequency    |    Date    |
| Value 1 | Monthly        | 2015-08-09 |
| Value 2 | Yearly         | 2015-08-09 |
| Value 3 | Monthly        | 2015-08-09 |
| Value 4 | Twice per year | 2015-08-13 |
| Value 5 | Quarterly      | 2015-08-13 |
| Value 6 | Yearly         | 2015-08-09 |

The value can be:

  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Twice per year
  • Yearly

I'm looking for another way to show this since I don't really like using words for things like this (not really sure why, I guess I think it's ugly). One idea is to use an icon such as image showing a quarter but I think this would be hard to interpret for monthly for example.

Any other ideas? Or I'm just over complicating things?


4 Answers 4


I would not use icons for this purpose because they are difficult to understand without labels.

If you're worried about scannability, adding bars to ease visual comparison can help.

Here is a palette of options that use bars with different scales, and also different text representations of the frequency:

enter image description here

You will have to decide whether you want to include bars or not, and how verbose you want to be with the text.

  • 1
    I think the bars would be a little out of place but I like the idea with "12/years", "4/years" etc. Nice!
    – bjornlof
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 8:59

Two ideas:

  1. You could display the number of times per year the event takes place.

    • Monthly ----------→ 12
    • Quarterly ----------→ 4
    • Twice per year ----------→ 2
    • Yearly ----------→ 1
  2. If the important thing is when the next event will take place, you could hide the frequency in the UI and display the date of the next occurrence.

  • 1
    +1 for questioning assumptions and wondering if the next date is more important that the overall frequency. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 15:41
  • That's a good point. There are specific dates when these actions are due to be performed so the rest of the information might be redundant.
    – bjornlof
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 8:54

Seems like you might be over-complicating things, and not even for the right reasons : /

First, because "not really sure why, I guess I think it's ugly" is a poor reason to go re-inventing the wheel. If you do some testing, or get some feedback, that suggests users have issues with these words, then change it up. Applying your experience as a designer is one thing, but when you do that your statements start "I know from experience that X is a bad idea", not "I don't know, I guess".

Second, assuming these labels are a problem, it's a big design challenge to visually represent concepts like "twice yearly" in way that's better than using those two words. Not impossible, but unless you absolutely nail it, you're going to make things less usable.

  • 1
    Fair point! I guess I need to do some more testing to see if what the users think. Sometimes though, you've got this gut feeling that something is wrong but you can't really put your finger on it.
    – bjornlof
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 8:56

Do not use adverb but use every.

  • Monthly ------------→ every month

  • Quarterly ----------→ every 3 months

  • Twice per year ---→ every 6 months

  • Yearly --------------→ every year

You may want to add "once"

Once every 3 month

  • I agree that this sounds much better than the original but I'm looking for something shorter.
    – bjornlof
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 9:00
  • @bjornlof Next time mention it in your question, "it's ugly" is not very helping. ^^'
    – Yohann V.
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 9:21

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