Has anyone read or discussed about design patterns for selecting and/or
interact a record row in a table or list? I'm working on a project that
a user needs to interact with single record (edit/view and delete) in a
table most of the time. However once we get into the discussion of
interaction consistency, it gets more complicated. I would like to know
if anyone has done any research in this area.
We can generally categorize the interaction into 3 types:
Case 1: A user needs to manipulate each record/row one at a time. The
action is limited to one thing (two at most) only. For example, a user
will select a row in master table to view/edit it in a detail panel. In
our case, we have "edit" (or view depend on the status of the record if
it is still editable) and "delete" actions. We are discussing a few
a) a user can click anywhere on a row to view or edit the detail, a
trash can icon will be available on the same row for deleting the
record. The drawback for this option is that there's no direct link or
button to spell out "edit" action even though we can provide mouse over
highlight to hint the rows can be clicked on. In our field studies and
usability tests, we have found that sometimes users didn't get the clue
that they could interact with the grid.
b) provide edit/view and delete links on each row. The drawback for this
approach is that some users may get used to click on the row from other
application experience and expect the same here and also edit and delete
links take more pixel real estate than option a.
Case 2: A user needs to manipulate each record/row one at a time. There
are more actions can be done for each record. Design approaches for this
a) similar to option b in case 1, provide action icons/links on each
row. Other than the links, the row is not clickable. Links can take too
much space in this case.
b) provide links on each row as option a, but the row is clickable as
well. In this case, a single click on anywhere on a row and load detail
record immediately in detail panel can be problematic and slow down
c) Since there are more actions now, each row can get cluttered with
action icons/links, so move the actions to a top action bar may make
sense which is similar to outlook. The drawback on this approach is that
each action takes two clicks now, select the row first, then click on
the action button. This approach makes more sense for aggregated or
batch editing as in the following case 3.
Case 3: A user needs to do mass edit to multiple records at a time in
the grid. The solution seem to be more unified in this case: provide
checkbox on each row and allow user to select multiple items then
perform actions by click on actions on top or bottom of the grid.
So is there a magic formula that provides intuitive yet consistent user
experience for all 3 cases? Should the whole row be clickable? When
provide action buttons on each row, which way is better practice: to put
the buttons on the far right or far left of the table? Will it cause
confusion if action buttons are on top for mass edit grid and then on
each row for other cases?
By the way, lots of our end users are novice computer users, they don't
use outlook or surf on web. And yes we are going to do usability test
eventually on this, but for this project we don't have time and budget
to do it with end users now, so I'm asking you interaction guru's
opinion now. J
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