We have a simple administrative page for managing stores open and close dates.
Upon initial rendering, the page is readonly. Checking a box labeled edit in the top right of the page, enables the ability to edit.
There are a couple date pickers on the top of the page, one each for open and close date.
And a list of stores, with a checkbox beside them follow.
The user needs to enter an open or close date (or both) and select stores for the page to validate, and the save button to perform an action (otherwise a message appears informing them to select a store).
When saving, the open/close date entered is applied to all the stores that were checked.
Personally, I think this is sufficient. However, our analyst wants to modify the workflow on the page, so that the user can't enter an open or close date prior to selecting a store?
I think that's unnecessarily making the page harder to use, as if you want to pick your dates prior to picking stores, you no longer can. We validate upon saving, so, why force the user into entering values in a specific order needlessly.
His argument is that, it ensures the user selects a store. Because he thinks the validation message about not having any stores selected is confusing.
Usability wise, is it better to force the user through steps, or allow them to enter data however they want, as long as it's validated before saving? Given the user should have a firm grasp of how to use the page in the first place, as it's in their business domain, and the page only has one purpose.