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13:22 Use Data Entry Fields to Speed Performance

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 2 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 5 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Controls and Widgets


Guideline:

Require users to enter information using data entry fields (instead of selecting from list boxes) if you are designing to speed human performance.


Comments:

At least two studies have compared the effectiveness of text entry versus selection (list boxes) for entering dates and making airline reservations. Both studies found text entry methods were faster and preferred over all other methods. However, use of text entry fields tends to elicit more errors.


Sources:

  • Bailey, R.W. (1996). Human performance engineering: Designing high quality professional user interfaces for computer products, applications and systems (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Czaja, S.J., & Sharit, J. (1997). The influence of age and experience on the performance of a data entry task. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 144-147.
  • Fowler, S. (1998). GUI Design Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Gould, J.D., Boies, S.J., Meluson, A., Rasamny, M., & Vosburgh, A.M. (1988). Empirical evaluation of entry and selection methods for specifying dates. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 279-283.
  • Gould, J.D., Boies, S.J., Meluson, A., Rasamny, M., & Vosburgh, A.M. (1989). Entry and selection methods for specifying dates. Human Factors, 31(2), 199-214.
  • Greene, S.L., Gould, J.D., Boies, S.J., Meluson, A., & Rasamny, M. (1988). Entry-based versus selection-based interaction methods. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 284-287.
  • Greene, S.L., Gould, J.D., Boies, S.J., Rasamny, M., & Meluson, A. (1992). Entry and selection based methods of human-computer interaction. Human Factors, 34(1), 97-113.
  • Marcus, A., Smilonich, N., & Thompson, L. (1995). The Cross-GUI Handbook. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  • Tullis, T.S. & Kodimer, M.L. (1992). A comparison of direct-manipulation, selection and data-entry techniques for reordering fields in a table. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 298-302.

Poor Example:

If user's entries cannot be easily defined or constrained (for example, their street address or a particular search term), use open entry fields. However, if entries can be defined and errors reduced (state or country of residence) use list boxes. Be aware that alternating between these two entry methods will slow the user because the user will have to shift their hand between the keyboard and the mouse.

13_22_bad_example


Good Example:

In this example the user has the option to type the date they want using the keyboard or using the mouse in the calendar window that pops up when the user enters the Depart field. The calendar window automatically goes away when the user moves to the next field.

13_22_good_example