Location of selection checkboxes on lists

3 Sep 2004 - 10:16am
11 years ago
1 reply
798 reads
Rao, Malini


I am currently working on a web application for sourcing and spend analysis
and I am toying with an issue that I thought might be interesting to open to
the forum and get input. The product uses a lot of lists and usually has
check boxes on every row with a 'select all' checkbox on the top with
associated action buttons also on top of the list. The lists so far have
been only as wide as the screen in the ideal screen resolution for which the
product is designed and the header with the action buttons always remained
in view and out of the vertical scroll area. With the new release however,
new modules have been addeed in which the screen is very wide (I am told not
a single column can be removed). So the selection boxes are getting lost in
the scroll.

My questions are -

1. Is there a standard for the location of selection chackboxes on lists -
first column/ last column?
2. How do you handle the visual imbalance of having headers, filters, list
pagination, buttons and associated checkboxes on the right?
3. Any examples of how people have successfully dilineated to the user, all
buttons that need checkbox selection and those that don't?
4. What about actions that pertain only to a single row and appear with in
the body of the list? If the check boxes and the buttons on top are to the
right and the row actions on the left on a horizontal scroll, isn't that too
much mouse movement? If the row actions will also move to the left, then is
there a risk of seeing all the things you can do to a row before you see
enough information about it?

Lots of questions there....but any examples/ ideas/ pointers/input will be
much appreciated

Thanks in advance

Sr. usability manager


3 Sep 2004 - 12:33pm
Dave Malouf

Must be a holiday Friday ... Very little list activity. ;)

Anyway to the point ...

I have two comments/suggestions for ya. :)
It sounds like this is an application that has a very focused user base?
Can you limit your browser/platform environment? If you make it IE
5.5+/Mozilla-based/Safair/Opera (basically leave Netscape 6.x- behind) I
think you can change your selection model to more of a WIMP model where you
just click in the row instead of clicking on a checkbox for selection.

If you can't do that, having a checkbox being a requirement, usually almost
always means that it should be on the LEFT side of your row as the first

As to the rest of your issues, I think these need a lot further context. Are
you asking, how do you denote actions that are multi-select vs. those that
don't require selection.

The issues around pagination, filters, etc. to me are layout questions that
have no rules, but I would ask, why you have pagination at all?

If you can really indeed move to an XHTML world you can do a lot to do
inline scrolling (paning as opposed to framing).

One last thought. You said that your business owners "say" that they need
all the columns, but can you give the user the option to select what columns
they want? Are there some columns that are more important than others. Can
you "freeze" the first columns (i.e. the checkbox & the title/id) and begin
the horizontal scrolling after that?

You said that all your filtering/pagination is on the right ... Why is that?
I have even put filtering and other display options in a dialog of its own
but this only works if the system can have very little latency. (i.e. the
dialog) is in a layer and pre-loaded) and then then only the change causes a
client/server/client return.

Anyway, I realize this is all over the place, but I hope helpful.

-- dave

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