Time After Time

Mandy Kong - July 17, 2020

As we build an accurate map of places, hours of operation is one of the most valuable pieces of data we can collect. However, it’s also one of the most challenging.

Business hours are constantly changing, making frequent updates necessary. Even when they’re consistent, they still change from day to day, making them one of the most time-consuming pieces of information to enter from a user perspective. In contrast, location can be entered by dragging a single point on the map.

Faced with these challenges, we’ve iterated on the hours interface design several times, and learned many things along the way.

Early days

In the past, we included hours data in the place creation flow. In order to add a place to the map, you had to enter all relevant information about the place, including hours as well as name and location. Only after other users had validated your data could you earn the full amount of points.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible to enter hours, so we set reasonable defaults (10 AM to 6 PM) as a starting point. The hours chooser we used was the native Picker component, which allowed users to set the hour and minutes separately by scrolling through the values. Players who had their data marked as inaccurate by other players would lose points. This provided some reliability around the accuracy of the entered hours, as players were less likely to enter incorrect data.

Version 1 Version 2
The hours screen, pre-redesign and post-redesign.

Fast forward to today, and players are no longer discouraged from entering inaccurate hours by the possibility of losing points. As the creation flow became easier, and more players began to improve existing places rather than adding new ones, we started noticing a trend: players would leave the hours selector in the default position, resulting in incorrect data.

Based on this trend, we decided it was time for another design iteration.

What’s next

Currently in the works, we have implemented a time range slider component. While the slider displays a set range when it loads (10 AM - 2 PM), players must interact with both ends before a time is set. There are no longer default times, and even if players fail to enter the actual hours and just drag the slider enough to pass this step, the set ending time of 2 makes it easy for us to flag their input as potentially inaccurate.

Additionally, the “24/7” and “Not applicable” options are now hidden under the “More options” button, and the way to mark a day when a business is closed has been tucked away under the ellipses symbol for each day. This differs from the original design, where all options were found on the initial hours screen. Players naturally want to do as little work as possible. By removing the “24/7”, “Not applicable”, and the closing toggles from the first screen, we hope to discourage users from submitting these answers for the sake of expediency. We hope these new changes will both make entering hours easier and encourage users to provide more accurate data.