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  1. #1
    JustCallMeAl
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    Layout Preferences

    Does anyone know of any research, and the results thereof, on userform layout.

    Specifically, I am addressing 6 textboxes. They are in two rows of three each. Do users prefer going across then down, or down then across. In other words:

    1-----2
    3-----4
    5-----6

    or

    1-----4
    2-----5
    3-----6

    I can work either way, but I am trying to decide what may be best for the users.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Gold Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    I prefer to set up the controls in a star pattern like this:

    <pre> 1
    Kevin <IMG SRC=http://www.wopr.com/w3tuserpics/Kevin_sig.gif alt="Keep the change, ya filthy animal...">
    <img src=/w3timages/blackline.gif width=33% height=2><img src=/w3timages/redline.gif width=33% height=2><img src=/w3timages/blackline.gif width=33% height=2>

  3. #3
    JustCallMeAl
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Too bad there is not an icon for "pulling leg," because I think it should be used here. <img src=/S/nope.gif border=0 alt=nope width=15 height=15>

    <img src=/S/warts.gif border=0 alt=warts width=59 height=24>

  4. #4
    Gold Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Great idea. Mr Pix, please enter in.

    Sorry Al, I hope you at least got a little chuckle from my warped sense of humor...

    <img src=/S/flee.gif border=0 alt=flee width=25 height=25>
    Kevin <IMG SRC=http://www.wopr.com/w3tuserpics/Kevin_sig.gif alt="Keep the change, ya filthy animal...">
    <img src=/w3timages/blackline.gif width=33% height=2><img src=/w3timages/redline.gif width=33% height=2><img src=/w3timages/blackline.gif width=33% height=2>

  5. #5
    JustCallMeAl
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Yup. Had me goin' for a while.

  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Now that you've both had a good laugh ... I don't know about any research, but I've always preferred down and then across unless the columns are essentially part of the same "record" (i.e., First Name, Last Name). That seems to maintain the continuity of data better than jumping back and forth and isn't so visually distracting.
    Charlotte

  7. #7
    JustCallMeAl
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    In a way, I agree that working as "newspaper" columns at times seems to be better; yet, where I live, we read from left to right, which led me to that question.

  8. #8
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Right, and that was the point of my remark about FirstName and Lastname. If those two fields were part of the input, then left to right would make sense (since that's the direction you read in your particular part of the world). The same might be true of City, State and Postal code. But if you're entering a different kind of values where there is no particular continuity between fields, then I prefer down and then across.
    Charlotte

  9. #9
    2 Star Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    I know you guys are the Bees Knees in this technical jungle, but surely the answer is in the question. When I am trying to "decide whats best for the users", I ask the Users first. Engineers and Developers can make bad choices for Users.

  10. #10
    Platinum Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Yes, that's quite fair.

    But there are times where the user does not know what they want.

    Ideally, there will be someone else who is an expert on interface design.

    There's a great book- "The Inmates are running the Asylum". The title itself is great.

    The basic premise is, that it's the engineers and developrs who are making user interface decisions. Which is why it's sometimes so d*mn hard for a programmer to program a video recorder or an alarm clock. It's because "geeks" are designing the user interface.

    It's a good read, and I'd recommend it.

    But I wouldn't go so far as to say that a programmer cannot design a user interface.

    It depends on the prgrammer, and on their experience.

    I come from the old school, before users ever realised what computers could do. I find now that I can offer very good suggestions about what looks good and feels good- based on many years of mainframe interface, after many years of coaching people, and finding out what they reacted well to. Very many years before usability labs and the like. I am still finding that users like my suggestions, ahead of many far better programmers not long out of college.

    I will never be so presumptious as to tell the user what they want. But I think that I can offer a lot of positive contributions as to what may work for them.

    My <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15> anyway
    Subway Belconnen- home of the Signboard to make you smile. Get (almost) daily updates- follow SubwayBelconnen on Twitter.

  11. #11
    WS Lounge VIP rory's Avatar
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    My answer is the same as usual - it depends! Depends on the user(s), depends on the nature of what they're inputting, depends on what, if anything, they're used to (if it's a replacement for a paper form they used to fill out, they'll generally want it to look as similar as possible and to go in the same order they used to fill the form in) and sometimes I reckon it depends on the tidal pull of the moon, judging by some of the requests I've had.
    Fortunately, most of the stuff I do is for my own use and I find I'm pretty easygoing most of the time.... <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    My compromise is usually to either ask the most important user (not worth the grief of them not liking it) or the ones who'll spend the most time with it. Experience suggests, they'll never all agree!
    Regards,
    Rory

    Microsoft MVP - Excel

  12. #12
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Isn't that the truth! I have one user who decided (in an application for entering specific data that had to be laid out like the form they were used to) that she absolutely *had* to be able to navigate the thing using the arrow keys in order to avoid having to tab or mouse click. Since this was an unbound form that captured data and shoved it into a who series (hundreds) of relational records, working that one out was a huge effort. I found a way to make it work, and she was happy. ... Then they totally redesigned the form and I had to find a *different* way to make it work.
    Charlotte

  13. #13
    WS Lounge VIP rory's Avatar
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    That's what I like about my job and why I couldn't do yours (well, that and the fact I don't know enough!) - I don't have to worry about end users very often! On the rare occasions I do have to deal with them, I console myself with the fact that they're generally nowhere near as annoying as I was when I used other people's applications - so far they haven't managed to take any of mine apart and break them (famous last words....)
    Regards,
    Rory

    Microsoft MVP - Excel

  14. #14
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    <hr>so far they haven't managed to take any of mine apart and break them<hr>
    Then you're in for a treat! <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15> You know the saying, "For every idiot-proof application, there's an idiot who can break it!"

    The really novice users are afraid to use the thing because they *might* break it, but the users who have had an Access course <img src=/S/sick.gif border=0 alt=sick width=15 height=15> think nothing to trying to add their own twists, and then they call crying that the application is broken! <img src=/S/aflame.gif border=0 alt=aflame width=15 height=15> I have to leave most of my applications in MDB form, so that makes it riskier, although I disable everything I can and it takes command line arguments to get into the code. And, of course, it is absolutely impossible to think of *all* the weird and wonderful things a user might do with your application, so the best you can do is error trap and pray. <img src=/S/grovel.gif border=0 alt=grovel width=31 height=23>
    Charlotte

  15. #15
    WS Lounge VIP rory's Avatar
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    Re: Layout Preferences

    Well, idiots we have a-plenty (including one who tried to use desktop icons by tapping the screen with his finger!) but fortunately I'm in charge of training courses so I know who the dangerous ones are! <img src=/S/devil.gif border=0 alt=devil width=15 height=15>
    It's only fair I suppose - every IT department I've ever come across has hated me (I took ownership of all the network drives at my last company just to show them they weren't secure) but now I'm on the other side of that relationship so I'm starting to understand how they felt! <img src=/S/doh.gif border=0 alt=doh width=15 height=15>
    Regards,
    Rory

    Microsoft MVP - Excel

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