# How can I shorten "Add fractional dimension" and still keep its meaning clear?

Asked by ETpro (30638 ) May 30th, 2011

I am working on a website that sells custom made blinds. Any blind can be made in widths and lengths ranging from 10 in 1/8th inch increments inches to about 100 – 7/8ths inches. If I just made a width drop-down, the selection list would be 720 rows long, which is utterly unusable, of course. So what I have done is supplied a text input for width where the user can enter any number for 10 to 100 (JavaScript verifies that numbers are in range and have no special characters) and then a drop-down where the user can select a width adder if needed, Selections are “None, 1/8, ¼, 3/8, ½, 5/8, ¾, 7/8”. Length, of course, is handled the same way.

My challenge is what to call that fractional adder drop-down so it is clear to users what it is there for. I don’t have room to write out “Add fractional dimension.” How can I get the idea across in half as much space as that takes?

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How about one box for inches, another box for fractions of an inch? Otherwise you will have to parse e.g. 22 7/8 becomes 22 + (7 divided by 8)

RocketGuy (4954 )

What I have is a text input for whole number inches, which I parse with JS to ensure valid input, and a drop-down selection for the fractional adder. I figured if I let users type in things like 36½ I would also get inputs like 361/2, 36 17/32, 36.53. 36 and a half and so on. There is no way I would ever parse for everything the user could come up with.

ETpro (30638 )

”+ fraction of inch”? Probably still too long, huh…

Mariah (17446 )

@Mariah Yep. But thanks. I am thinking maybe I should go ahead and make the whole number selection a drop down as well. Then I wouldn’t have to parse for proper input, and the user would already have the idea of the width being a drop-down. I’ll have to look at the usability of a select list 90 tiems long.

ETpro (30638 )

Do it with two dropdowns
H: Inches” Fraction /”
Values for first dropdown are range of whole numbers, Values for second dropdown are 1/8”, ¼”, etc.

If you are talking measurements and your boxes look like:
H: [20”] [ / ”]
W: [12’] [ / ”]

people will know what to do.

BarnacleBill (16015 )

Whole Inches
Eighths

Then your second box has to parse only for entries between 1 and 8, and you only allow one character.

WasCy (10033 )

Width (in 1/8 inches) next to two drop down boxes side by side, one for inches the other for 1/8 inches.

flutherother (19429 )

I would think it would be pretty clear if the fractional inches box was right next to the inches box. Pretty much exactly what @BarnacleBill said to do. You really wouldnt even need to label that drop down box.

@WasCy 1 and 7. you wouldnt get something 8/8ths :P

uberbatman (30207 )

Length: ____ and ____ inches

Where the first blank is for whole numbers, and the second blank is for fractional numbers. They’ll get the idea.

Ivan (13364 )

Ah, right, @uberbatman. Actually, you’d want to check digits 0 – 7 and make it a required field. Good catch.

WasCy (10033 )

I have a few ideas-

Idea #1 Two drop down boxes, which seems to be the popular idea, saying something like ”[___] Inches and [ 0 |v] Eights.” The first box should be text entry. The default for the second box would be zero with a drop down from 1 to 7.

Idea #2 One text entry box, with an add fraction button. When the button is clicked, it drops down options for the fraction. This would look like ”[___] Inches [+ Fraction].” The options would range from 1/8 to 7/8.

Idea #3 Entry in the form of a mixed number. It will have one text entry box and one drop down box. It will look like ”[___] [ 0 |v] / 8 Inches.” The / will be replaced by an actual fraction bar with the drop down box over 8. The first box is the inches, and the second is a drop down box with a default of zero with a drop down from 1 to 7. This approach would look like a mixed number, and might be less confusing.

NOTE: Here is an explanation of the symbols I used.
[___] is a text entry box.
[ N |v] is a drop down box with a default of N.
[ text ] is a button.

PhiNotPi (9830 )

Can’t [ + L ] and [ + W ] do? : )

mazingerz88 (17229 )

You need pictures to make it clear what people are selecting. Then you can call it “width of each piece” and “number of pieces” or anything you want, it won’t matter.

roundsquare (5499 )

Or, even better, have people input the size of their windows and then give them a few options, also with pictures. So if the window is 10 inches tall, there are only 8 options that cover that (1/8 in, 2/8 in, etc….).

roundsquare (5499 )

@WasCy ohhh another good point

uberbatman (30207 )

@BarnacleBill That’s pretty much what I had come to as well. I made a test drop-down from 10 to 120 (largest size range of any product) and found that it’s quite usable. And it makes using the fraction drop-down more intuitive.

@WasCy I really like that. Quite clear and succinct. Thanks.And BTW, if I use drop-downs for both, no parsing is required. Only valid entries are shown to select.

@flutherother That makes sense too. Thanks.

@uberbatman I think I will go with what @BarnacleBill suggested using drop-downs for both. They will be colse together, so that should be fairly intuitive.

@Ivan Thanks.

@PhiNotPi Idea #2 could be a great method with the proper drop-downs, but being lazy I think I’ll just show both on-page instead of exposing the second input onClick.

@mazingerz88 That would probably confound me. I’m easily confounded, and so a good usability measure.

@roundsquare Pictures are a posibility. I already am providing lightboxes to show the color swatches for the color option, inside or outside window mounting arrangements, and what the selection of controls actually means. I’m going to avoid the effort on the front end, but if users have trouble with it, we can always add an explanatory lightbox. The fact that blinds can be mounted inside the window frame or outside on the jambs throws a monkeywrench into using window dimensions.

Thanks, everyone, for getting me unstuck on this.

ETpro (30638 )

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