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Usability question

Hi Guys.
What do you think about best way to display list of data?
For example, address book:

1. Display contacts(name only) in left menu and load full description on select.
2. Display contacts in grid - many columns(first, last name, email, age etc.) + ability to group by columns, filter columns etc. And open edit window when user click  the  edit button in row .
3. Display contacts in listview - only summary info and open edit window when user double click the row.

I used different ways in different applications but not sure what most usable.
Alex Tretyakov
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I would say #3 is the worst (who wants windows popping up all the time). The choice between #1 and #2 is a matter of preference and how you use the application. If you are using the list to sell pencils to people you have never met you probably want to cram lots of people into the UI with a few details about each person. If you are selling helicopters to executives you probably want tons of room to write down their pets names, favorite colours etc.
NetFreak Send private email
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
What's the difference between 2 & 3 other than how the edit dialog is invoked? I'd do 2/3 with an explicit edit control to edit the record and an implicit double-click to edit the record...
Former COBOL Programmer Send private email
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Who is caring about the results?

You, or the end-users of your software?  If A, whatever.  If B, find a few and plop them down in front of a test system and see what they do with it.

The more I read here, the more I come to appreciate the enormous gulf between how developers see a question, and how the end users think about it.  If your target users are developers, you may be OK on your own results (augmented with this site's feedback).  If not, test.
Ideophoric Send private email
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
One pane in the window with the data items arranged as a scrollable table showing certain fields, plus a separate “overflow” pane for all detail fields for the current item in the table. The table has the fields important for finding the desired item or otherwise comparing items. The overflow has fields which are too large for the table or are only used when the user has identified the desired item for further action. In an extreme case where all fields qualify for the table, there is no overflow pane. At the other extreme, where users don’t compare items and don’t find the item by scrolling (e.g., they type in an identifier from a paper form), there’s no table pane. There’s incremental variability in between the extremes depending on the fields’ characteristics and purposes. One basic design approach covers nearly all cases and makes for a consistent UI. Double-click to open an edit window? Sounds eevil. When using a table, why not make it possible to edit the fields directly in the table?
Michael Zuschlag Send private email
Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Give your users choice. Like Outlook does. ;)
I prefer #1 + good search.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
>Double-click to open an edit window? Sounds eevil. When using a table, why not make it possible to edit the fields directly in the table?
IMHO editing in grid can confuse some users(like me). I like grid for ability to group and filter the columns.

Posted screenshot is exactly what i mean #1 and I like it.
Alex Tretyakov
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Depends on what somebody is trying to accomplish when using your screen.

If there's just a phone number, address, etc of each person, then why not make all the info available so you can visually scan it?  If there's little enough information that it can fit in a grid, that's preferable.  It'll be in neat columns, so there shouldn't be too much visual clutter. Make sure rows are distinct (like with alternating shades of gray) so your eye can travel along a row accurately.

If each item has much more associated info (like in the screen shot above, where there's a picture, graph, etc), then you have to hide some of the info since there's no space.
andrew mcg Send private email
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
"...editing in grid can confuse some users...." Hmm, interesting. Just for my own curiousity, confused in what way? Do they enter the wrong value in a field? Edit the wrong field or record? Try to edit a field in some unallowed way? Not realize the grid is editable at all? Some of the above? What's specifically happening? Thanks.
Michael Zuschlag Send private email
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Nowdays, I think most people are familiar with the Excel spreadsheet paradigm for manipulating lots of data. I could be wrong, but I know of very few applications that display cells but require you to focus elsewhere (another window or pane) in order to edit a cell.

There is an exception. if the tables display aggregated data, and its implicit that you need to "click through" to edit the raw data, then yes, users would expect to do the actual work in another window or panel.

With respect to the original question, my preference would be for #1 - regardless of how much data I actually have recorded for a contact, I expect those data elements to be in the same place every time. (Ideally, #1 with a grid like view to the side.)  Resizing the window depending on the amount of data available, is just annoying.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
> Hmm, interesting. Just for my own curiousity, confused >in what way?
As I say it simply imho because I'm personally not familiar with Excel. May be most of users like the such way of edit data..

I used grid approach to display contacts in current my application but recently faced with situation when need more columns for contact and open edit window is no good how i already understand. Will try to rewrite to #1 i think
Thanks for responses.
Alex Tretyakov
Wednesday, March 01, 2006

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