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I'll try to minimize the rubber-ducking; I'm posting this as a proxy for my team.

We're designing summary table that shows work history of a part (on a mechanical machine). It's intended as a quick reference which appears as a modal.

The users would occasionally like to be able to see the action's time in order to correlate it to some event on the shop floor, but the date is the primary reference.

The original design called for the time to follow the date. This causes an undesirable visual grouping effect and clutters the table with rarely-needed information:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

A following iteration suggests using a circle-i tooltip icon which, on hover, will display the time:

mockup

download bmml source

There are two concerns with this design:

  1. Our users are heavy keyboard users, so a tooltip, while perfectly accessible, may be undesirable (annoying);
  2. It does tend to attract the eye to the least important element of the table.

The application is designed solely for desktop computer with keyboard, and mouse as the primary pointing device.

While there are many excellent questions on formatting date and time displays, we're struggling for a good way to show partial date with additional information which is both subtle and accessible.

  • What other interactions are possible/necessary on the table, e.g. would it be acceptable to show the time for a given row only when that row is selected? – calum_b Dec 8 '16 at 18:00
  • @scottishwildcat Thanks for asking. It's purely informational and not interactive. It's intended to be a quick and common reference to check the history of a part which can be launched from several different contexts. – msanford Dec 8 '16 at 18:55
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    Thanks. It's hard to imagine a solution that doesn't demand some interaction with the table, if you don't want to show the time right away... but I'll keep thinking about it :) – calum_b Dec 9 '16 at 0:00
  • @scottishwildcat Sorry, perhaps I was unclear. It isn't mandatory that there be no interaction at all. What I meant by that was that table headers aren't dynamically sortable (they are pre-sorted by date), nor are there any in-place editable fields, or anything fancy like that. So I'm definitely open to suggestions! I merely wanted to keep the "nuisance" to a minimum (as we all do): it's quite possible that this (i) icon is the most appropriate design to start with. – msanford Dec 9 '16 at 13:58
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I will answer my own question for completeness, but please feel free to continue to contribute ideas if you come across this in future.

We decided to show only the date in this view and made the row clickable. Upon clicking, it opens a modal with an excruciatingly complete set of data for that work event.

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