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I am in the middle of developing an app. I'm having some trouble trying to decide the best usage for two features in particular. I know what both of these words mean, but I am becoming increasingly confused and irritated the more I try to find a good-fitting word for both features that is not only easily understood by your average Joe, but also doesn't sound too weird or out of place.

Expense and Purchase.

The reason I am becoming confused is because I was originally using the word Expense to allow you to enter things like Grocery Shopping items, utility bills, petrol, lunch, dinners, etc.

But then I wanted to make things a little easier. I wanted to separate necessities, or things that we really need from things that we want - or just simply one-off purchases. So then I introduced the word Purchase. So now I have a menu that looks like this:

File ---New ------Purchase ------Expense ...

You click on New Purchase if you've just bought something and want to record it (this is a budgeting app). You click on New Expense if you have things to pay for like bills, petrol etc on a regular basis.

I'm not sure anymore. I've confused the heck out of myself and now I need some help.

Which word would best describe the feature: "I just purchased something and need a record the details of this transaction" (Please don't suggest using the actual word Transaction. That word is literally everywhere else.)? And which word would best describe this feature: "I have some bills and/or items that I buy on a regular basis, and I want to record the details of these future transactions."?

Remember: I'm trying to keep them separate. I know I could just use one word for both features, but due to many minor differences in each feature it could be confusing to others and I like a nice and clean interface.

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2  
Is the distinction necessity vs nicety or recurring vs once-off? If the former, consider procurement (or acquisition), though this generally applies only to products and excludes the consumption of services; if the latter, consider receipt? –  Dan Bron Jul 31 at 14:55
    
Perhaps this question would be better asked on User Experience. It might become tiresome always having to pointlessly select "New" every time you want to record a one-off purchase, simply because once in a blue moon you can't enter another instance of a recurring bill because it's the first one for that particular payment. –  FumbleFingers Jul 31 at 15:22
    
@FumbleFingers although its completely unrelated to this problem I appreciate your suggestion. We do have a nice pretty toolbar for convenient access though :-) –  jay_t55 Jul 31 at 15:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Generally, questions related to programming are off-topic here, and you'll get better answers over at the Usability Stack Exchange, but I'll take a stab:

From a usability perspective, the user shouldn't have to interpret the meaning of these labels. They should be obvious.

If I were you, I would think about labeling them with more than one word to make it crystal clear. Something like:

File
---New
------One-Time Purchase
------Recurring Expense
...
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Thanks @Kevin. I've decided to go with your words. :-) –  jay_t55 Sep 17 at 11:47

I agree with Kevin's answer but if you want single words I'd use purchases and recurring.

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. –  Vilmar Sep 17 at 7:33

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