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What do you think about the user interface with only an edit form—where there is no separate interface for viewing data—like in Microsoft CRM?

Is it effective? What problems do such interfaces tend to have?

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migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Sep 22 '11 at 20:22

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Thank you for your comments and so the good solution would be to gather first usage statistics of edit/view factor, additionally it would be niece to add button to view and to edit into the grid. –  bezieur Sep 22 '11 at 18:53
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4 Answers 4

I think there are cases when users enter/update such a high percentage of the time so you make it the default. When you are using forms every day, you start to know what you're doing and don't have to worry about making a mistake because you're always in edit mode. For instances where users won't use the form enough to develop any fluency, you try to protect them from themselves.

Too often we only develop for one type of user. Often a user's needs evolve through experience and proficiency. My online banking site can "walk" me through entering a transaction or display a grid where I can enter several simultaneously. After using the wizard a few times, the grid just makes more sense, but not at first.

In this case, your primary data entry person for CRM will be sales, marketing and support people. Getting data into a CRM system is an issue because sales people would rather make sales instead of data entry. Anything they perceive as a roadblock should be removed. Support people may be on the phone with a client, so saving a click in this case is crucial. Not sure how many times I've heard apologies while they get the form open.

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I'd see this as dangerous and possibly a poor idea for a few reasons:

  1. If the user doesn't have write permissions how is this handled? Are the text boxes disabled, the submit button disabled or the form throws a message of, "Not gonna do it," to tell the user that this isn't allowed? Is it assumed that all users will have write access to the data?

  2. How well does this handle cases where someone is mistakenly overwriting someone else's changes? It is possible for multiple people to open the same customer but one makes changes that the other may end up overwriting as both have the option to edit the data.

  3. Would there be checks before updating the data or would it just always update regardless of if there is a change or not? Each has its own overhead of course.

While I can understand the intent of having such a set-up being convenience there is a price to pay for that which should be understood.

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You may be able to control this from the UI preceding the dialogue you are concerned with in your question. That is, you run a search, you get a list and you select one item to open a details window/page. The selection act could allow the user to chose what they want to do (display vs edit).

This gives the user the flexibility to choose the exactly required action. If the data is sensitive, you may want to 'lock' the row when one user requests editing it and then release the lock after the edit is complete.

The above design also allows users who don't have access to edit mode to see the data in read-only mode by either eliminating the menu options from the list or by graying it out.

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I like a form that can switch modes without a reload. So it comes up with plain labels, and then by clicking an "edit" button, all the data fields are replaced with form fields. That way you have to mean it about changing the values, but it's not burdensome to do so.

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