Plain Language for Date Based Campaigns

When building software, very often adding features can also add complexity and in some cases even confusion.
Take for example Subscriber Date Based Campaigns, with this feature of ActiveCampaign our goal was to allow you to send a campaign to your subscribers on birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or any other date information you may have on file.
To program this is relatively simple, essentially need to look to see when a one date matches another plus or minus a number of days, weeks or months.
However when presented this way in a human interface here is how it looks:
The old way of entering a date based campaign.

While this might make sense to a programmer, it served to confuse many of you and even some of us. In order to address this, example text was added but we still weren’t happy with it.
In order to find a new approach we needed to take a look at all the variables involved:
  • How often does this message send: Every year or just once?
  • Is it sent before, after, or on a specific date?
  • If before or after is it a matter of days, weeks, or months?
  • How many of those days, weeks, or months?

The first thing we did was to try to write out the most complex scenario in plain language:

“Will send (every year / once) ((x) (days/weeks/months) (on, before, after)) the subscriber’s (date variable)”

As well as the simplest:

“Will send (on) the subscriber’s (date variable)”

By replacing exactly/plus/minus with on/before/after we not only addressed the biggest source of confusion but we are now able to present it much more elegantly:
New Date Based layout
Instead of expanding the phrase out from the end as before we decided to style the drop-down boxes to appear more subtly and expand from the middle. When the word “on”  is clicked the phrasing will expand and allow you to customize the setting as you see fit while retaining an easy to read and understand the sentence.
Date Based Expanded
To further simplify we broke out the setting for how often this sends on the right to match our other settings. You can now also click  the option on the right to toggle between sending yearly or only sending once.
We’re proud of this approach as we think it is clearer and much easier to use and we think you’ll think so too.
Clarity and ease of use is important to us, if you discover other areas that you think could be simpler we’d love to hear. Drop us a line in our feedback forum. Thanks.

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