In-Page Editing

In-Page editing provides a nice way to change displayed content and observe the change in context. Here are some best practices to consider:
  • Keep the editing inline for single fields.
  • Use inline when editing one of many in a set - keep the context in view.
  • Keep the display and editing modes the same size when possible - avoid page jitter and reduce distraction when moving between the two modes.
  • Make the transition between display and editing as smooth as possible.
  • Use mouse hover invitations to indicate editing when readability is primary.
  • Avoid using double-click to activate editing.
  • Place a bracketed "[edit]" link near the item to be edited if editability is equally important or if the quantity of items that can be edited is small. This text is an excellent way to separate the link from the displayed text without creating visual distractions.
  • Show the edit in place when editing one item in a series (to preserve context).
  • Use an overlay when editing needs careful attention - remove the likelihood of accidentally changing a critical value.
  • Do not use multiple overlays for additional fields. If you have a complex edit for a series of elements, use one overlay for all.
  • When providing an overlay, use the most lightweight style available to reduce the disruptiveness of the context switch between render and editing state.
  • Use buttons when it might be too subtle to trigger completion implicitly.
  • Use explicit buttons for saving and cancelling when there is room.
  • Whenever possible, allow the overlay to be draggable so that obscured content will be revealed as needed.

Best Practices for Table Edit

Here are some best practices for Table Edit:
  • Bias the display toward readability of the table data.
  • Avoid mouse hover for activating cell editing. It makes for the feeling of "mousetraps" and makes the interaction noisy.
  • Activate edit with a single click. While using a double-click may not be totally unexpected (since it looks like an Excel spreadsheet), a single click is easier to perform.
  • Consider allowing extra space during editing either through a drop-down editor or by slightly enlarging the edit cell.
  • As much as possible, mimic the normal conventions of cell navigation that users will already be familiar with (e.g., in Microsoft Excel).

Best Practices for Secondary Menus

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Place alternate or shortcut commands in Secondary Menus.
  • Consider activating Secondary Menus by holding down the mouse for one second as an alternative to right-clicking to show the menu.
  • Style Secondary Menus differently than the Browser's standard secondary menu.
  • Avoid Secondary Menus for all but redundant commands
  • Avoid Secondary Menus in places where there is little resemblance to a traditional web page.
  • Use Secondary Menus for operating on a selected set of objects.

General Practices for Contextual Tools

To sum up, here are some general best practices to keep in mind:

  • Contextual Tools help reduce the user's path to completing a task. By placing tools near the point of focus and making these tools easy to activate, you can create a lightweight interaction.
  • Use Contextual Tools when you have no way to select elements and operate on them as a whole.
  • Use Contextual Tools to shorten the path the user must take to complete a task for an item shown on the page.
  • Use Contextual Tools when you want to provide a clear call to action at the point of focus.
  • Always make your actions as immediate as possible, avoiding additional steps where you can.
  • Where possible, use familiar techniques (hyperlinks, drop-down arrows, buttons) when providing actions in unexpected places (hover-revealed Contextual Tools).
  • Make the actions clear and direct. Avoid using icons for all but the most obvious (an [x] or a trashcan for delete, for instance).
  • Use buttons for solid calls to action and links for minor actions.
  • Make sure that targets used to open menus or expand information are suitably sized. Never use 8×8 pixel targets.
  • Make tools easy to understand, easy to target, and quick to execute. This will make them feel lightweight.

Best Practices for List Inlay

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
  • Use List Inlay when the context of the other items in the list helps the user understand the visible inlay.
  • Use List Inlay to avoid having users navigate to a new page or pop up an overlay to see an item's detail.
  • Restrict it to show only a single item when you need to preserve space, and the hidden content is not critical to the opened content.
  • Allow multiple items to be visible for parallel content (like filters in a search).

Best Practices for Tabs

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
  • Use tabs to display additional content inline.
  • Avoid using multiple tabs on a single page.
  • If you use more than one set of tabs on a page, create a visual contrast to distinguish the tab content areas.
  • Put the most important content in the first tab. Many users may not navigate to any of the other tabs.
  • Activate tabs with a mouse click.
  • If revealing the content on other tabs is important, you can activate tabs on hover—but use this sparingly as it can be annoying (e.g., personal assistant tab on the Yahoo! home page).

Bibliographical Information

Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Inc.
Pub. Date: January 19, 2009
Print ISBN-13: 978-0-596-51625-3

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes

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