Dilemna between consistency and efficiency

24 May 2005 - 3:43am
9 years ago
3 replies
646 reads
Pierre Abel
2004

Hello,

I've got this little dilemma :

Basically, I deal with a user task which frequency is low, but very
important to configure and updating the system. This task includes two
sub-tasks:
1--> a multiple selection in a large set (>50) where the average
selection number is 5 to 15 items. Each items have some meta-data that
can be useful to the user to make its choice.
2--> a multiple selection a a small set (<10) when the average selection
number 1 to 3. There is no meta-data

Usually the style guide I work with use simple checkbox list/table to
allow the user to make multiple selection. But for the first sub-task, I
believe that this widget is not very usable because the user would not
have a good overview of what he has selected (because of the large
number of items). So for this sub task, I would choose another widget
like a dual list/table (with available items on one side, and selected
items on the other side).On the other hand, a simple checkbox list seem
perfectly ok for the the second sub-task

Now I feel that it is a problem to provide the user with two different
widgets to make the same kind of task (ie multiple selection),
particularly when the multiple selections are done one after one (e.g in
a wizard)

I think that the most important is to support efficiently the first
sub-task (and thus the dual list/table must be used), but using a dual
list for second task is really too heavy (...but more consistent! ) So I
would go for using two different widgets, but I've got some doubt yet.

Have you ever got such a dilemma ? How did you decide ?

Thanks,

Pierre

Comments

24 May 2005 - 4:47pm
Juan Lanus
2005

Pierre,

Do your users consistenly operate "dual list/tables"?
If so then you are consistent else you are not. No matter the gizmo
used for the short list.

Consistency does not mean that you have to use the same device
everywhere. Else you would be limited to only text boxes, or only ...
(I exaggerate).

What I wonder is the kind of users that will be presented the "dual
list/table". You do not want them to learn to operate it in this
applicacion don't you?

Regards!
--
Juan Lanus
TECNOSOL
Argentina

25 May 2005 - 9:38am
Beth Osnato
2004

Pierre,

In situations such as these, I refer back to my Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A
foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"

In other words, never use consistency for consistency's sake. If these two
tasks have different needs, and the transition or connection between them
does not require consistency, then don't force it.

Cheers,
Beth Osnato

Beth Osnato | Information Architect
WeightWatchers.com
bosnato at weightwatchers.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Pierre Abel [mailto:abel at castify.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2005 4:44 AM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Dilemna between consistency and efficiency

Hello,

I've got this little dilemma :

Basically, I deal with a user task which frequency is low, but very
important to configure and updating the system. This task includes two
sub-tasks:
1--> a multiple selection in a large set (>50) where the average
selection number is 5 to 15 items. Each items have some meta-data that
can be useful to the user to make its choice.
2--> a multiple selection a a small set (<10) when the average selection
number 1 to 3. There is no meta-data

Usually the style guide I work with use simple checkbox list/table to
allow the user to make multiple selection. But for the first sub-task, I
believe that this widget is not very usable because the user would not
have a good overview of what he has selected (because of the large
number of items). So for this sub task, I would choose another widget
like a dual list/table (with available items on one side, and selected
items on the other side).On the other hand, a simple checkbox list seem
perfectly ok for the the second sub-task

Now I feel that it is a problem to provide the user with two different
widgets to make the same kind of task (ie multiple selection),
particularly when the multiple selections are done one after one (e.g in
a wizard)

I think that the most important is to support efficiently the first
sub-task (and thus the dual list/table must be used), but using a dual
list for second task is really too heavy (...but more consistent! ) So I
would go for using two different widgets, but I've got some doubt yet.

Have you ever got such a dilemma ? How did you decide ?

Thanks,

Pierre

24 May 2005 - 4:36am
J A Sefton
2005

> Now I feel that it is a problem to provide the user with two different
> widgets to make the same kind of task (ie multiple selection),
> particularly when the multiple selections are done one after one (e.g in
> a wizard)

I think that in this case 2 different widgets would be fine. My
experience is that many users wouldn't see this as the same type of
task - to them, picking a small set of multiple selections is a very
different task than picking a large set of multiple selections,
therefore, they wouldn't be surprised or confused by having the two
separate types of widget (indeed its possible that they would expect
them)

Having said that, the only real way to tell is to conduct some user
testing on this - get a small percentage of your target users to use
the different widgets and see what they think. This wouldn't have to
be expensive - Steve Krug's book "Don't Make Me Think" has an
excellent section on cheap methods for user testing - and it would
give you a definitive answer.

Hope this helps,

Best Regards

Adam

On 5/24/05, Pierre Abel <abel at castify.net> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hello,
>
> I've got this little dilemma :
>
> Basically, I deal with a user task which frequency is low, but very
> important to configure and updating the system. This task includes two
> sub-tasks:
> 1--> a multiple selection in a large set (>50) where the average
> selection number is 5 to 15 items. Each items have some meta-data that
> can be useful to the user to make its choice.
> 2--> a multiple selection a a small set (<10) when the average selection
> number 1 to 3. There is no meta-data
>
> Usually the style guide I work with use simple checkbox list/table to
> allow the user to make multiple selection. But for the first sub-task, I
> believe that this widget is not very usable because the user would not
> have a good overview of what he has selected (because of the large
> number of items). So for this sub task, I would choose another widget
> like a dual list/table (with available items on one side, and selected
> items on the other side).On the other hand, a simple checkbox list seem
> perfectly ok for the the second sub-task
>
> Now I feel that it is a problem to provide the user with two different
> widgets to make the same kind of task (ie multiple selection),
> particularly when the multiple selections are done one after one (e.g in
> a wizard)
>
> I think that the most important is to support efficiently the first
> sub-task (and thus the dual list/table must be used), but using a dual
> list for second task is really too heavy (...but more consistent! ) So I
> would go for using two different widgets, but I've got some doubt yet.
>
> Have you ever got such a dilemma ? How did you decide ?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Pierre
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