November 2023 · 7 mins read

by Roman Kamushken

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on designing an effective DatePicker component. This tutorial aims to provide you with an in-depth understanding of creating a user-friendly Date Pickers that enhances UX across various patterns.
Datepicker – is an interactive component commonly used in UI that allows users to select a date, and sometimes time, through a visual calendar interface.

It simplifies the process of entering date information by providing a standardized format and reducing the likelihood of errors compared to manual input.

Table of contents

Datepicker Anatomy
  • Header
  • Navigation Controls
  • Date Grid
  • Date Cells
  • Day of the Week Labels
  • Month and Year Dropdown
  • Time Selection (If Applicable)
  • Action Buttons
  • Predefined Shortcuts
Types of Datepickers
  • Text Input Datepicker

Datepicker Anatomy

Definition: The header is typically at the top of the Datepicker and often contains controls for navigating between months or years, as well as a title indicating the current month and year being displayed.

Design Recommendations:
  • Make sure the header is prominent and provides clear visual cues for navigation.
  • Consider including simple arrows or intuitive icons for the navigation controls.
  • Display the month and year in a readable font size.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Navigation Controls
Definition: These are interactive elements that allow the user to move between time periods, such as months or years. They are often represented by arrows or buttons.

Design Recommendations:
  • Place navigation controls in a consistent location, such as on either side of the header.
  • Use recognizable symbols, like chevrons (< and >), for arrows.
  • Ensure that controls are large enough to be easily tapped on touch devices.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Date Grid
Definition: This is the main part of the Datepicker where dates are displayed in a grid format, typically starting with Sunday or Monday and ending with Saturday, delineating weeks.

Design Recommendations:
  • Keep the grid layout consistent with a clear distinction for each date.
  • Current dates should be easy to identify, and non-current dates (e.g., previous or next month's dates) can be visually muted to avoid confusion.
  • Ensure that the grid has sufficient padding to avoid a cluttered look.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Date Cells
Definition: Individual cells within the grid represent each day. These cells are selectable unless they are disabled.

Design Recommendations:
  • Make sure each cell is of adequate size to be a touch target on mobile devices.
  • Use visual cues like a different background color or a border to indicate the selected or highlighted state.
  • Distinguish today's date visually to make it stand out from other dates.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Day of the Week Labels
Definition: These labels are typically found at the top of the date grid and indicate the days of the week.

Design Recommendations:
  • Use abbreviations (e.g., "Mon" for Monday) to save space, but ensure they are understandable.
  • Ensure that the labels are easy to read and are in a non-dominant color since they are not interactive.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Month and Year Dropdown
Definition: Some Datepickers provide dropdown menus for changing the month or year more quickly than using the navigation controls.

Design Recommendations:
  • Make sure dropdowns are easily recognizable as interactive elements.
  • Include all months in the month dropdown and an adequate range of years in the year dropdown.
  • Consider limiting the number of years shown at one time if the range is extensive to prevent overwhelming the user.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Time Selection (If Applicable)
Definition: In Datepickers where time selection is required, time controls allow users to specify the hour, minute, and sometimes the second and AM/PM.

Design Recommendations:
  • Include time selection inline with the date selection if the use case requires it.
  • Offer common preset times for quick selection, if applicable.
  • Use a familiar clock interface or easily understandable time input fields.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Action Buttons
Definition: These are buttons like "Today," "Clear," "Cancel," and "OK" that perform actions within the Datepicker.

Design Recommendations:
  • Clearly label action buttons to accurately describe their function.
  • Position the buttons in easily accessible areas, usually at the bottom of the Datepicker.
  • Consider using colors to differentiate primary actions (e.g., OK or Save) from secondary ones (e.g., Cancel).
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Predefined Shortcuts
Definition: Predefined shortcuts are quick selection options that allow users to select commonly needed dates or ranges, such as "Today," "Tomorrow," "Next Week," or "End of Month."

Design Recommendations:
  • Incorporate predefined shortcuts that make sense for the context of your application (e.g., "End of Fiscal Quarter" for a financial app).
  • Make these shortcuts visually distinct but not distracting from the main date selection process.
  • Position shortcuts conveniently, perhaps near the action buttons or at the top for quick access.
  • Limit the number of shortcuts to avoid overwhelming users with too many options.
  • Clearly label each shortcut so the user understands exactly what date or range they will be selecting.
  • Consider using a different visual treatment, like a secondary button style or distinct icons, to differentiate these shortcuts from regular date cells or action buttons.
Datepicker UI design tutorial –

Types of Datepickers

Text Input Datepicker
  • Text Input Datepicker
  • Dropdown Date Picker
  • Basic Inline Calendar Picker
  • Popup Calendar Datepicker
  • Date Range Picker
  • DateTime Picker
  • Time Picker
  • Date Wheel Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: An input field that accepts date information entered by the user as text.

Purpose: To give users the ability to quickly type in a date when they know the exact date they want.

When to use: Useful in forms where space is limited or when users are likely to know the date they need to input without needing a visual calendar.

Design tips:
  • Enable auto-formatting so users don't have to type separators like slashes or dashes.
  • Use placeholder text or labels to indicate the expected date format (e.g., MM/DD/YYYY).
  • Provide error messages that help users correct mistakes easily.
Dropdown Date picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A date picker that allows users to select date components (day, month, year) from separate dropdown menus.
Purpose: To facilitate date selection without requiring users to type a date manually.
When to use: Appropriate when you want to prevent typing errors and ensure the user selects a valid date.
Design tips:
  • Arrange the dropdown menus in a logical order that suits the user's locale (e.g., day/month/year for most of the world, month/day/year for the U.S.).
  • Allow users to navigate between dropdown options using the keyboard for faster input.
  • Include logical limits, such as preventing users from selecting a day that doesn't exist in a given month.
Basic Inline Calendar Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A static calendar display embedded within a webpage or application interface.
Purpose: To provide a visual aid for users to select a date.
When to use: Ideal for systems where the user benefits from seeing the context of a calendar, such as booking systems or event planning apps.
Design tips:
  • Ensure that the current date and selected date are clearly highlighted.
  • Provide clear navigation to move between months and years.
  • Disable dates that are not selectable, such as past dates for booking systems.
Popup Calendar Datepicker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A calendar that appears in a floating element over the page when a date field is activated.
Purpose: To save space on the primary UI and avoid clutter by displaying the calendar only when needed.
When to use: Best used in forms or applications where the user might need to reference a calendar for date selection but doesn't require it always visible.
Design tips:
  • Ensure the popup is positioned in a way that does not cover vital UI elements or form fields.
  • Animate the popup to enhance the user experience and provide a more engaging interaction.
  • Include touch-friendly controls for mobile users.
Date Range Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: An interface that allows selecting a start date and an end date to define a range.
Purpose: To let users specify a period between two dates effectively.
When to use: Essential for booking platforms, dashboards, or anywhere users need to define a span of time.
Design tips:
  • Visually distinguish between the range selection, selected dates, and the hovering state within the calendar.
  • Enable users to edit either date individually after the initial range is selected.
  • Provide commonly used ranges (e.g., Last 7 Days, This Month) as shortcuts.
DateTime Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A date picker that also provides controls for specifying the time of day.
Purpose: To allow users to select dates and times from a single interface without switching contexts.
When to use: Suitable for appointment scheduling, event creation, and other applications where time specificity is critical.
Design tips:
  • Separate date and time sections visually but keep them within the same component.
  • Include increment buttons for time selection to simplify input, allowing minute adjustments.
Time Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A user interface element dedicated to capturing a specific time, often in hours and minutes.
Purpose: To allow the user to input a time value independently of a date.
When to use: When an application requires time input without an associated date, such as setting alarms.
Design tips:
  • Implement a clock-face design for intuitive hour and minute selection, particularly on touch devices.
  • For list-based designs, ensure hours and minutes are easily scrollable.
  • Differentiate between AM/PM clearly if using a 12-hour clock format.
Date Wheel Picker
Datepicker UI design tutorial –
Definition: A date picker interface that uses a spinning wheel or drum-like interface, where users flick or scroll the wheels to choose the individual date components, such as day, month, and year.

Purpose: The date wheel picker's primary purpose is to provide an intuitive and quick means to select a date on touchscreen devices, leveraging the natural gesture of scrolling.

When to use: It is particularly suited for mobile applications where touch interaction is the primary form of user input. Users can select dates without switching to a keyboard input, making it convenient for on-the-go selection.

Design tips:

Dropdown Use Cases

Using in Navigation Menus
A navigation menu dropdown is commonly used on websites to help users explore web pages of the site, or web app sections. It provides a clear and organized structure for users to find the information they need.

Sample of a navigation menu dropdown from an e-commerce website:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for navigation pros:

  1. Saves space in the header by hiding secondary or tertiary nav options.
  2. Provides a clear options hierarchy.

  1. May hide important navigation options and reduce discoverability.
  2. Longer interaction time if users have to navigate multiple levels.
Language Selection
Language/region selector dropdowns allow users to switch between different language or regional variations of a website. They simplify the user interface by avoiding cluttering the screen with language options.

Here's an example for such a use case:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for language pros:

  1. Allows users to switch between language or regional variations of a website easily.
  2. Simplifies the user interface by avoiding clutter of language options.

  1. Users may not be familiar with the language or regional abbreviations used in the dropdown.
  2. Long list of languages or regions can be difficult to scan and select from.
Data Input Forms
Data input forms often use dropdowns to provide users with predefined options for selecting values or input. They ensure accurate and consistent data entry.

Here's a dropdown in a data input form for selecting a date format:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for data input pros:

  1. Provides users with a pre-defined set of options, reducing errors and ensuring consistency.
  2. Takes up less space compared to radio buttons or checkboxes when there are many options.

  1. May limit users' ability to enter custom or non-listed options.
  2. Requires additional interaction steps to reveal the available options.
Filter and Sorting Options
Filter and sorting options dropdowns are commonly used in e-commerce or data-heavy applications to help users narrow down their search results or sort data based on specific criteria.

Here's a sample filtering options dropdown:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for filtering pros:

  1. Enables users to refine or sort the content according to their preferences easily.
  2. Helps users focus on specific subsets of data, reducing cognitive load.

  1. Users may not be aware of available filtering options, leading to potential frustration.
  2. Dropdowns with numerous filter options can become overwhelming and cumbersome to use.
Configuration Settings
Dropdowns can be used for configuration settings, allowing users to customize their preferences or adjust various options within a system or application. This use case is commonly seen in software settings or account management interfaces.

Here's a configuration settings dropdown:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for settings pros:

  1. Provides a consolidated and organized way to access and modify configuration settings.
  2. Saves space and reduces visual clutter by hiding less frequently accessed settings.

  1. Users may find it challenging to locate specific options within a long dropdown list.
  2. Dropdowns with a large number of settings may require excessive scrolling or become overwhelmed with options.
Selection of Single/Multiple Items
Dropdowns can also be used for selecting single or multiple items from a predefined list. They are commonly used in forms or settings where users need to make multiple selections.

Here's a selection of multiple items within a dropdown:
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Dropdown for settings pros:

  1. Provides a compact and organized way for users to select single or multiple options from a list.
  2. Offers a clear visual representation of selected options, enhancing user understanding.

  1. Dropdowns with long lists of options can be difficult to navigate and select from.
  2. The visual representation of selected options may become cluttered with a large number of selections.

UX & Usability Tips

Default Values and Placeholder Text
UX problem: Users may be unsure about the initial state of the Dropdown or may not notice that a selection is required.

Solution: Include a default value or placeholder text in the Dropdown to provide users with an indication of the expected input. This helps users understand the purpose of the Dropdown and encourages them to make a selection. Placeholder should clearly convey the type of options available.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Logical and Intuitive Organization
UX problem: Users can feel overwhelmed or frustrated if Dropdown options are not logically organized or grouped.

Solution: Group options in a logical manner such as by category, relevance, or alphabetical order. Use visual cues, such as dividers or indentation, to indicate hierarchy or relationships between options. Implement a search or filter functionality for lengthy or nested lists.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Keyboard Accessibility
UX problem: Users who rely on keyboard navigation may struggle to interact with Dropdowns effectively.

Solution: Ensure Dropdowns can be navigated and activated using keyboard-only inputs. Provide clear keyboard focus indication and allow users to navigate through options using arrow keys. Use the Enter or Space key to select an option, and allow the Escape key to dismiss the Dropdown.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Selected Option Feedback
UX problem: Users may not be aware of the option they have selected in the Dropdown, especially if they inadvertently click outside the Dropdown or if the selected option is not immediately visible.

Solution: Provide clear visual feedback to indicate the selected option: highlight the selected option or display a checkmark next to it. Visually distinguish the selected option from the rest of the options by using a different font weight or color. Display the selected option above or next to the Dropdown as a temporary label, reinforcing users' selection and reminding them of their choice.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Color Contrast and Visual Accessibility
UX problem: Users with visual impairments may have difficulty discerning Dropdown options if the color contrast is insufficient.

Solution: Adhere to accessibility guidelines for color contrast, ensuring that the text and background colors within the Dropdown meet the recommended contrast ratio. Consider using additional visual cues, such as borders or icons, to differentiate selected or focused options.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
Limiting number of options and incorporating search functionality
UX problem: Dropdowns with an extensive list of options can become overwhelming, making it challenging for users to locate their desired choice quickly.

Solution: Limit the number of visible options initially, either by displaying a set number of options or using scrollable menus to avoid overwhelming the user with a long list. Implement a search or filter functionality within the Dropdown to allow users to search for specific options by typing keywords. This enables users to find their desired option quickly, especially in Dropdowns with a large number of choices.
Dropdown UI design tutorial and UX usability tips
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