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We have a business application where users edit participants' payroll information across multiple income sources in a single list.

A list would have - around 200 participants - each participant would have around 4 - 5 columns of data to be edited (income sources) - The list would show approximately 20 participants per page - User will have to paginate for 10 pages to go through all the participants and make changes

Now when this list has errors, what is the best way to show errors and allow users to navigate between them? Worst case scenario is that all the 200 participants could have errors.

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Why don't show only records which has errors? In best case the list will be empty. And specify what kind of errors are do you have? How will the users correct them, where the right data sources are? –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 30 '13 at 17:01
    
I cannot separate errored participants from good ones because I have to submit the entire list. And further I might want to cross check if I have mis-typed data between participants. –  Raj Radhakrishnan Jul 30 '13 at 17:16
    
Displaying errors only doesn't influence submitting. At least you can re-order data to display records with errors in the beginning. –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 30 '13 at 17:34
    
You need to provide more context. Is this web-based? Is it a desktop or mobile app? I ask this because the ideal situation is to raise errors as they are found (on each page). You wouldn't summarize all the errors (of all pages) on the first page. It would be easier to alert the user that there are errors and then present them as they scroll through the list. –  Nick ONeill Jul 30 '13 at 22:20
    
This is a web based application and the errors cannot be shown instantly due to technical back end challenges. The errors will be fetched on submit and errors could occur in multiple pages. –  Raj Radhakrishnan Jul 31 '13 at 16:43

3 Answers 3

My usual recipe is the following:

  • provide new column called "status" or something
  • use color coding
  • make sure sorting (and optionally filtering) works for that column
  • provide error details as an action for status cell

It is possible to add more features, but even this basic approach works just fine.

enter image description here

BTW, you can present "error" as a link to relevant details, or use short error description instead of static "error" status.

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Additional column breaks the data. It's better just color code entire rows which contain errors. It is more noticeable, too. Even more better to visualize cells which have errors. Still holding rows highlighting. –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 30 '13 at 17:52
    
Not necessarily a problem. Color coding for the entire row will break readability. BTW, how will you compensate absence of column ordering? –  Renat Gilmanov Jul 30 '13 at 18:03
    
@Alexey please note that this application has to be accessible too. I am not sure if we can rely on color coding alone to solve this issue. :( –  Raj Radhakrishnan Jul 30 '13 at 18:27
    
@Renat FYI - the table you have shown here is the stripped down version of a complex table with 80 participants per page with more than 10 pages(paginated). –  Raj Radhakrishnan Jul 30 '13 at 18:29
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@RajRadhakrishnan, what is confusing you? You have paging in order to deal with huge lists. Column ordering is a must anyway and it should work with paging as well. –  Renat Gilmanov Jul 30 '13 at 19:08

The best navigation is... no navigation! Navigation suppose moving from A to B. It could be easy and smooth or foggy and painful.

But if you are at B already you need no navigation at all! Then the problem of navigation is gone!

I try to bring this idea to you. Display errors only and you need no navigation. At least re-order records so that the errors are placed first. No navigation again.

Other argument is you need no navigation, but mean to skip correct records, that leads to skipping all correct record at once!

Isn't it (almost) perfect solution? )

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Is it possible to simply tweak the process to deal with errors separately? For example, let's say your users' workflow is currently:

  • Work through the list of participants, page by page as normal

  • Click SUBMIT, whereupon the page notifies the user that there are X errors

  • User backtracks to the appropriate place and fixes the errors, one by one

In the new system, how about:

  • Work through the list of participants, page by page as normal

  • Click SUBMIT, whereupon the page notifies the user that most of the records (provide a count or whatever) processed fine, but there are X errors and sends them to a filtered list of only participant records with errors

  • User fixes the errors, clicks SUBMIT again

  • The system processes the entire result set as before

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