Editing multiple items from a list

2 Sep 2010 - 8:12pm
3 years ago
12 replies
879 reads
jstrande
2007

I'm working on a feature that would enable people to apply the same "response" / "reason" to multiple items that they select from a list and looking for some help!

The basic idea is this:

During the course of a shift at a manufacturing plant, there are a number of events that can occur for a production line worker. A requirement is for them to provide a reason and comment for each of these events. The trouble is, that these events can queue up during the course of shift so they can't respond to them in real time (they are fixing the problems before providing an explanation for them).

So, let's say that 4 hours pass and there have been 17 events and so things have quieted down and now they go in to complete the required explanation. I'm displaying all 17 items that require input and let's say that 10 of the items all share the same cause (VERY common).What I'm doing now is displaying them in a table with a check box and letting them select the ones to edit and there is a button underneath the table labeled "Edit Selected Items". Yuck.

1.) There is nothing guiding someone at this point to first select the items and that they have the opportunity to clear several items at once... okay, this can be taught and/or people will learn it after a few days of doing this... but still, I don't like it.

2.) This is done on paper today and one guiding principle we have is that the online form can't take longer than the paper... I have a feeling that all the selecting and moving between pages is going to take people quite a bit of time and eventually frustrate them.

3.) We do have a touch screen interface, so we can explore something other than the standard Web interface of clicking with a mouse... I can admit that I'm just a little out of my element on this one, having never designed an app for a touch screen... would people understand drag & drop (I'm concerned with that from an affordance perspective, do you put a big label over the list... "Drag this to a reason"?)

So, to recap - I'm looking for a good UI to enable people to select multiple items and apply the same response to all the items they've selected.

Thoughts???

Thank you in advance!!

Jon

P.S. let me know if I any clarity is needed.

Comments

2 Sep 2010 - 10:05pm
Marcus Blankenship
2010

Jon,

What about a simple copy & paste button next to each entry box. After they fill in one reason, they can hit Copy, then hit Paste next to all the others it applies too.

Thoughts? Marcus

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of Jon Strande Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 6:37 PM To: marcus@creoagency.com Subject: [IxDA] Editing multiple items from a list

I'm working on a feature that would enable people to apply the same
"response" / "reason" to multiple items that they select from a list and
looking for some help!

The basic idea is this:

During the course of a shift at a manufacturing plant, there are a number of
events that can occur for a production line worker. A requirement is for them
to provide a reason and comment for each of these events. The trouble is,
that these events can queue up during the course of shift so they can't
respond to them in real time (they are fixing the problems before providing
an explanation for them).

So, let's say that 4 hours pass and there have been 17 events and so things
have quieted down and now they go in to complete the required explanation.
I'm displaying all 17 items that require input and let's say that 10 of the
items all share the same cause (VERY common).What I'm doing now is displaying
them in a table with a check box and letting them select the ones to edit and
there is a button underneath the table labeled "Edit Selected Items". Yuck.

1.) There is nothing guiding someone at this point to first select the items
and that they have the opportunity to clear several items at once... okay,
this can be taught and/or people will learn it after a few days of doing
this... but still, I don't like it.

2.) This is done on paper today and one guiding principle we have is that the
online form can't take longer than the paper... I have a feeling that all the
selecting and moving between pages is going to take people quite a bit of
time and eventually frustrate them.

3.) We do have a touch screen interface, so we can explore something other
than the standard Web interface of clicking with a mouse... I can admit that
I'm just a little out of my element on this one, having never designed an app
for a touch screen... would people understand drag & drop (I'm concerned with
that from an affordance perspective, do you put a big label over the list...
"Drag this to a reason"?)

So, to recap - I'm looking for a good UI to enable people to select multiple
items and apply the same response to all the items they've selected.

Thoughts???

Thank you in advance!!

Jon

P.S. let me know if I any clarity is needed.

5 Sep 2010 - 8:10am
jstrande
2007

Marcus,

Copy & paste is an interesting idea - I had not thought about that, I might have to mock something up and see if how fast the form completion can be done performing two operations like that, it certainly would help with the concern I have about people just providing a reason and selecting everything... by doing something on each event it will encourage them to think through the selections.

Thank you for the suggestion!

Jon

2 Sep 2010 - 11:05pm
Lnajera
2010

Jon,

It seems to me that you are using the appropriate UI controls for the task; that is to say using checkboxes for selecting multiple items is very much a correct solution.

Regardless, here has been my experience with a similar situation. In the application I have been working on we essentially have two screens that manage multiple selected items in the following way:

1) On the first screen we display only the selected items, for example; if the task is to select from 20 colors and the user has only selected 5 colors, only the 5 will be displayed as having been selected. 2) To edit the record, the user clicks on an "Edit" button that takes them to screen two or the edit screen. In this edit screen, the user sees the full list of items, or label and checkbox controls, and they also see the ones which they have selected. 3) In edit screen the user can modify their selections by clicking on the checkboxes and when they are done the record is saved and the user is taken back to screen one. 4) On screen one the user only sees the items they have selected.

This does a few things for the user; first it shows the user only the items which they have selected, this is especially useful since they user does not have to do much scanning of the form and thinking on their part. The user only sees the relevant selections.

Since only the selection made are showing on screen one, it also makes for a less cluttered UI. And let's face it, when you have a list of 5 or more items with checkboxes it can get pretty messy.

In your case, your screen would only display the items which have been selected and the user would have to click on an edit button to view the full list of 17 items. The only part I'm still not sure of is what Edit does in your case? My question to you would be what happens when the "Edit Selected Items" is clicked. Can they create more than one record when items are selected? Where does the user go and what do they do next? Is this a web based application or client side application. The reason I ask is because a multi select control can be implemented in a number of ways depending on the environment. Can you provide more description.

Hope to hear back!

On Sep 2, 2010, at 9:28 PM, Jon Strande wrote:

> I'm working on a feature that would enable people to apply the same "response" / "reason" to multiple items that they select from a list and looking for some help! > > The basic idea is this: > > During the course of a shift at a manufacturing plant, there are a number of events that can occur for a production line worker. A requirement is for them to provide a reason and comment for each of these events. The trouble is, that these events can queue up during the course of shift so they can't respond to them in real time (they are fixing the problems before providing an explanation for them). > > So, let's say that 4 hours pass and there have been 17 events and so things have quieted down and now they go in to complete the required explanation. I'm displaying all 17 items that require input and let's say that 10 of the items all share the same cause (VERY common).What I'm doing now is displaying them in a table with a check box and letting them select the ones to edit and there is a button underneath the table labeled "Edit Selected Items". Yuck. > > 1.) There is nothing guiding someone at this point to first select the items and that they have the opportunity to clear several items at once... okay, this can be taught and/or people will learn it after a few days of doing this... but still, I don't like it. > > 2.) This is done on paper today and one guiding principle we have is that the online form can't take longer than the paper... I have a feeling that all the selecting and moving between pages is going to take people quite a bit of time and eventually frustrate them. > > 3.) We do have a touch screen interface, so we can explore something other than the standard Web interface of clicking with a mouse... I can admit that I'm just a little out of my element on this one, having never designed an app for a touch screen... would people understand drag & drop (I'm concerned with that from an affordance perspective, do you put a big label over the list... "Drag this to a reason"?) > > So, to recap - I'm looking for a good UI to enable people to select multiple items and apply the same response to all the items they've selected. > > Thoughts??? > > Thank you in advance!! > > Jon > > P.S. let me know if I any clarity is needed. > >

2 Sep 2010 - 11:05pm
eliannaj
2010

Jon -

Several quick ideas 1) Drag and drop is so common that most people do have the concept in mind. Perhaps a simple instruction at the top of the list would work to remind them that the choice is there.
2) If they can shuffle the items around (do a pre-sort) to gather like items together before they attend to them that would almost have to be faster than shuffling through paperwork
3) So, once they are sorted, and some days each item will be its own little issue, and other days they will cluster, the worker should be able to deal with them in a group -- same root cause and/or same solution
4) once they've committed their remarks have that whole section change color (tricky because of color blindness etc issues, but that you can work out)
5) the color or intensity change will allow the worker to "remember" where they are in the list (another advantage over paper, although with a paper list you can check it off, or scratch it out)
6) when the worker answers all items the task is done and they can take a save or file action to commit the lot to some storage area
thanks for giving us the opportunity to chime in! Good luck!

elianna james
'I break websites'

eliannaj@yahoo.com
303-494-2285 (home)720-425-1001 (cell)

--- On Thu, 9/2/10, Jon Strande <jstrande@gmail.com> wrote:


From: Jon Strande <jstrande@gmail.com>
Subject: [IxDA] Editing multiple items from a list
To: eliannaj@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, September 2, 2010, 7:51 PM

I'm working on a feature that would enable people to apply the same "response" / "reason" to multiple items that they select from a list and looking for some help!

The basic idea is this:

During the course of a shift at a manufacturing plant, there are a number of events that can occur for a production line worker. A requirement is for them to provide a reason and comment for each of these events. The trouble is, that these events can queue up during the course of shift so they can't respond to them in real time (they are fixing the problems before providing an explanation for them).

So, let's say that 4 hours pass and there have been 17 events and so things have quieted down and now they go in to complete the required explanation. I'm displaying all 17 items that require input and let's say that 10 of the items all share the same cause (VERY common).What I'm doing now is displaying them in a table with a check box and letting them select the ones to edit and there is a button underneath the table labeled "Edit Selected Items". Yuck.

1.) There is nothing guiding someone at this point to first select the items and that they have the opportunity to clear several items at once... okay, this can be taught and/or people will learn it after a few days of doing this... but still, I don't like it.

2.) This is done on paper today and one guiding principle we have is that the online form can't take longer than the paper... I have a feeling that all the selecting and moving between pages is going to take people quite a bit of time and eventually frustrate them.

3.) We do have a touch screen interface, so we can explore something other than the standard Web interface of clicking with a mouse... I can admit that I'm just a little out of my element on this one, having never designed an app for a touch screen... would people understand drag & drop (I'm concerned with that from an affordance perspective, do you put a big label over the list... "Drag this to a reason"?)

So, to recap - I'm looking for a good UI to enable people to select multiple items and apply the same response to all the items they've selected.

Thoughts???

Thank you in advance!!

Jon

P.S. let me know if I any clarity is needed.

5 Sep 2010 - 8:14am
jstrande
2007

Elianna,

I love the idea of a presort! Yeah, I was thinking that there would need to be clear labels along the top of each section with enough visual hierarchy to ensure that they saw & understood the steps needed to perform the operation.I also really like the idea of giving them a visual cue as to which items they've completed.

Great suggestions, very well thought out!

Thank you so much!!

Jon

2 Sep 2010 - 11:51pm
craterpop
2010

How would the user select items in the first place and how would it go from that screen to the screen where only selected item is shown? You'd have to probably confirm your selection after selecting so the application knows you're done selecting, which would be just an extra step versus just clicking the action button.

I think iPhone email edit function does this pretty well if you don't want to clutter the screen with checkbox in the initial screen. You can place response/reason button at the top of the table which invokes checkboxes on the left of each items. Then you can make your selection and confirm the action you've chosen.

Regardless, one method you should probably stay away from is drag/drop. Especially if there will be many items involved, drag and drop will be more of a novelty than functional since it involves so much more control and time for the user.

5 Sep 2010 - 8:17am
jstrande
2007

Michael,

I've moved it all to one screen and made it so that there is a clear visual hierarchy to inform them of the steps required, think of it as sort of a guided completion.

I agree, the iPhone email edit is GREAT! In this case they have to do something and they've taken the action to get to this page, so they've already clicked the 'Edit' button in a sense.

Great suggestions!! Thank you for taking the time to reply!!

Jon

3 Sep 2010 - 1:53pm
jstrande
2007

Lnajera,

Thank you so much for the reply - one question is how you know what 5 items people have selected if you haven't shown them the list to select from?? In our case we have to give them the full list in order for them to select the events they want to edit.

This is a web application. Edit in our case allows them to select the items they want to provide a reason for (Edit might not be the greatest term here). The basic goal is for people to be able to clear the list of open events by providing a reason for each of them, the thing that makes it a challenge is that they may want to provide 1 reason for several of the events. I got an email from somone suggesting flipping the problem around, letting people choose the reason first then asking them to pick which events to apply it to - which I like.

Thank you again for the reply!

Jon

 

4 Sep 2010 - 7:37am
ttaunk
2009

Could you split the screen into two, say with the left half of the screen displaying the list, and the right half displaying the details of the selected item in the list? This way your users won't have to jump between screens. If the user selects multiple items in the list, the pane on the right will show a filtered down version of the details that are applicable to all selected items. This would include the "reason" explanation. Also, if the reasons are typically common, you could consider being able to save the reason with perhaps a name that the user can easily pick from, rather than type it in each time.

Hope this helps.

~Tarang

4 Sep 2010 - 8:10am
jstrande
2007

Tarang,

Thank you for the great suggestion - I thought of something similar to that, however, what I ended up doing (just in the last 2 hours) was reversing the order of things.

The reasons are now at the top and then the events:

1.) Apply the Following Reason:

    data entry fields

2.) To the Selected Events:

   event table

3.) Finish

    submit button

What this does is give people sort of a guided completion.

What I love about your suggestion and the design I currently have is that they both keep the form completion on a single page.

Again, thank you for the great suggestion!!

Jon

5 Sep 2010 - 5:00am
robenslin
2008

Hi Jon,

Have you considered solutions found in Gmail and Flickr?

Gmail allows the user to select a number of emails (your list of events requiring editing) using an individual checkbox, and then using a global drop down selector, like the 'Move to' [1], you can apply a common attribute to them.

Flickr allows the user to edit the photo title (again, your list of events requiring editing) inline [2]. You could add a drop down list of common attributes during the same interaction.

Good luck,

-- Rob

[1] http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4106/4959174317_f04fcf9681_o.png
[2] http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4098/4959776204_7ab0e00fdf_o.png

 

5 Sep 2010 - 8:07am
jstrande
2007

Rob,

Thank you for the great suggestions!! Yes, I thought of something like the gmail, and what we have now with the resons on the top is sort of similar - people will be applying something above the list to items in the list, which I think is pretty intuitive. Testing will show whether that is a correct assumption. I haven't seen the flickr example, I'll check that out!

Thank you!

Jon

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