I have been racking my brain for some time now on this seemingly simple concept. Needless to say I have not come to a conclusion.
I am looking for the best method for a user to enter a contact time. Our users typically work from 8AM to 5PM, however we are a 24/7 operation so there is at least one person that could have contacts from 5PM to 8AM. Contact times are in minute increments. Our solution is used for billing, therefore accuracy on time is extremely important.
Here is what I have tried so far:
- Blank field, just enter the time - This is not desirable since each user ends up entering values differently. For example, entering 1:00 can mean 1AM to one person but 1PM to another. Blank fields allow users to be creative. Creative users lead to inaccurate billing.
- Individual fields for hour, minute, and period (AM/PM) with value lists limiting hours to 1-12 and minutes from 00-59. Triggers populate a time field on hour/minute/period field change - Users complain that they have to click on three different fields to enter times. Six fields for situations requiring a start and end time. I do have tab orders set to move between fields on enter, but nobody seems to notice or use it. Also the minute value list is huge and difficult to navigate.
- Value list with preset hours, 8:00AM, 9:00AM, and so on. Then a up/down arrow to nudge minute increments. - Again, this would mean a lot of clicks to narrow down to the correct minute to say 8:29AM. Breaking down the list to half hour or 15 minute increments just makes the value list more difficult to navigate.
I have not done this, but it is a thought:
- Field for hour, two for minute and one for period. User selects from value list for hour 1-12, first minute field 0-9, and second minute field 0-9. Buttons would be above and below each set to nudge up and down. - This makes the minute value lists smaller, but requires more clicks.
It seems that no matter how I create a time field, I annoy at least half of our 200 users. What ideas or methods do you use in your solutions? Sample files for a visual would be greatly appreciated.