RE: Usability study of tables sorted across vs. down

Subject: RE: Usability study of tables sorted across vs. down
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Kevin Elmore <kelmore -at- gmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 13:21:05 -0400

Kevin Elmore asked:
>
> I've been having a discussion about presenting a table of links.
> Since there are no borders, this looks more like two columns online,
> so the term, "table," is used on the authoring side.
>
> Right now, I have 17 links in two columns. It has always been laid out
> alphabetically from left to right. I think it would look better being
> sorted alphabetically from top to bottom instead.
>
> I wonder if there have been any usability studies on the layout of
> these types of tables (columns). I know that I personally prefer a
> table that lists everything down first and then across, but I could
> possibly be in the minority. Any ideas of these studies?
>
> Kevin


If they are not large, and the whole thing fits on one screen,
then I'd say it's purely a matter of taste.

Where I get resentfull is when tables or multiple columns
extend below the fold, and I have to scroll down, then
back up, then down again.

If I already know exactly what I'm looking for, it's
not as much of an annoyance. The problem comes when
I'm confronted with a table / columns and I don't
know that the entry I'm after exists, or I don't
know if the authors referred to it by the term that
begins with "k" or the term that begins with "r"...
meaning that I have to scroll to the alphabetical
location that should contain one or the other, before
I can know it's not there.

I'm of an age where I encounter the same little annoyance
with PDFs, too. As soon as the doc is zoomed enough to make
the text comfortably large, a page no longer fits vertically
onscreen. Yes, that depends on fonts, backgrounds,
and many other usuability/visibility considerations
in the document, but it happens more and more.

Eh? What's that ye say, sonny? Where's my cane?
What did I do with my teeth!? What smell? Musta
been the dog... mumble, grumble...


- Kevin

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References:
Usability study of tables sorted across vs. down: From: Kevin Elmore

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