examples of choosing a set of fields

14 Mar 2007 - 3:13am
7 years ago
2 replies
516 reads
Bruce Esrig
2006

We're designing a form that offers the user two sets of fields. The user
can fill out one or the other.

The ultimate in flexibility would be to keep all the fields enabled until
the user completes one set and submits the form. An indicator would chase
back and forth to show the user which set of fields is currently selected
to be submitted.

Does anyone have good *examples* of web-based interfaces that support this
sort of choice for the user, or advice against trying it?

Here is a scenario with reasoning to support trying this:

The user wishes to complete a task (in our case: provide identity
information for registration). There are two valid sets of information that
the user could provide. The user may have qualms about providing each set
of information because each set of information includes some details that
may be unnatural or uncomfortable for them to provide. As a result, the
user may be enduringly undecided about which option to select.

To accommodate the user, we'd like to keep the choice active and in front
of the user. That minimizes the switching cost and maintains a single
coherent context while the user is wobbling between alternatives. We can
also leave de-emphasized information on the screen for an abandoned
alternative, in case the user decides to resume that alternative.

Desktop software examples:

The Print dialog box in Microsoft PowerPoint (pre-2007) has an asymmetric
version of this. If you use the Slide Show menu to create one or more
custom shows, then you can toggle the method for specifying the print range
between Custom Show and Slides, each of which has a subordinate field. To
switch to Custom Show, you can use the drop-down menu, but to switch to
Slides, you have to click on the radio button.

Microsoft Excel (pre-2007) also demonstrates this behavior only partially:
in the Print dialog, you can start entering the page numbers you want, and
the radio button follows as an indicator. But there's nowhere else to enter
information, so to switch elsewhere, you have to set a different radio
button explicitly.

Best wishes,

Bruce Esrig

Comments

14 Mar 2007 - 12:26pm
.pauric
2006

Hello Bruce, I'm having a hard time seeing the benefit to the user by
offloading a decision the interface should be making: what information do I
need from the user?

I apply general principle of informing the user what to expect before laying
the controls/form on them. Forewarned is forearmed. If there's a strong
case for the likelihood that they may back up mid form then provide controls
for that. That is, I would fork at the start rather than present both forms
in parallel. This is assuming I've understood your scenario.

Also, this might be of some use: <
http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000172.php>

Yes it is true that no one reads the manual, or the little paragraphs in
front of the form. However I think there's a sliding scale of a requirement
for preface help text when the complexity of the form goes up. I'm
currently in the middle of a 20-28 page wizard, I've broken it in to 5
subroutines, the user can save/pause at any of the stage breaks. The very
first page covers the stages and the first page in each stage explains what
to expect.

Informing the user of the information the system will require of them
reduces anxiety.

On 3/14/07, Bruce Esrig <esrig-ia at esrig.com> wrote:
>
> We're designing a form that offers the user two sets of fields. The user
> can fill out one or the other.
>
> The ultimate in flexibility would be to keep all the fields enabled until
> the user completes one set and submits the form. An indicator would chase
> back and forth to show the user which set of fields is currently selected
> to be submitted.
>
> Does anyone have good *examples* of web-based interfaces that support this
> sort of choice for the user, or advice against trying it?
>
> Here is a scenario with reasoning to support trying this:
>
> The user wishes to complete a task (in our case: provide identity
> information for registration). There are two valid sets of information
> that
> the user could provide. The user may have qualms about providing each set
> of information because each set of information includes some details that
> may be unnatural or uncomfortable for them to provide. As a result, the
> user may be enduringly undecided about which option to select.
>
> To accommodate the user, we'd like to keep the choice active and in front
> of the user. That minimizes the switching cost and maintains a single
> coherent context while the user is wobbling between alternatives. We can
> also leave de-emphasized information on the screen for an abandoned
> alternative, in case the user decides to resume that alternative.
>
> Desktop software examples:
>
> The Print dialog box in Microsoft PowerPoint (pre-2007) has an asymmetric
> version of this. If you use the Slide Show menu to create one or more
> custom shows, then you can toggle the method for specifying the print
> range
> between Custom Show and Slides, each of which has a subordinate field. To
> switch to Custom Show, you can use the drop-down menu, but to switch to
> Slides, you have to click on the radio button.
>
> Microsoft Excel (pre-2007) also demonstrates this behavior only partially:
> in the Print dialog, you can start entering the page numbers you want, and
> the radio button follows as an indicator. But there's nowhere else to
> enter
> information, so to switch elsewhere, you have to set a different radio
> button explicitly.
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Bruce Esrig
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

15 Mar 2007 - 11:26am
Pawson, Mark
2007

Hi Bruce,

I also was puzzling over your scenario and based on the previous reply
thought the following design pattern was what you needed.
http://designinginterfaces.com/Responsive_Disclosure - quote from the
pattern "Furthermore, since the UI is kept together on one page, the
user can easily go back and change his mind about earlier choices. As
each step is redone, he immediately sees the effect on subsequent
steps."

Mark Pawson
User Centered Design Team
IHS

-----Original Message-----
From: pauric [mailto:radiorental at gmail.com]
Sent: March 14, 2007 11:26
To: IXDA list
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] examples of choosing a set of fields

Hello Bruce, I'm having a hard time seeing the benefit to the user by
offloading a decision the interface should be making: what information
do I need from the user?

I apply general principle of informing the user what to expect before
laying the controls/form on them. Forewarned is forearmed. If there's
a strong case for the likelihood that they may back up mid form then
provide controls for that. That is, I would fork at the start rather
than present both forms in parallel. This is assuming I've understood
your scenario.

Also, this might be of some use: <
http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000172.php>

<snip>

Syndicate content Get the feed