I am working on an grid that has a few editable cells. Users will be able to change things like entity name, budget, etc.

I have an option to make the editable grid "spreadsheet like" with auto save.

The second option is to add Save and Cancel buttons when editing each cell, for each cell.

Which option do you think can work better? other similar web apps have inline editing with save and cancel buttons next to the cell you are editing.

The spreadsheet like experience seems faster to work with but users could make mistakes. some of the changes are important things like changing a budget...things you want to be sure about.

With Save and Cancel:

enter image description here


without save

2 Answers 2


Having a 'Save/Cancel' button in this may give the user more confidence that the system has changed it and its saved.

Given as you say that these can be pretty significant changes, the buttons will give the user confidence and potentially make them feel relaxed when making changes that they are all captured and saved.

I would be inclined to go with this option.


With the clicking on the next cell option, if you make it explicitly clear that its autosaving after every change then it may instil confidence in the user that it is being saved constantly which may make them feel alot more relaxed. If its not clearly showing it is saving users may look for an overarching save or something to validate their changes. They may also feel very uncomfortable leaving the page not having confirmed that their changes have been made.

I would also be inclined to run some user tests to see which version your users are most comfortable with.

  • Thank you for your answer. We did test the second option only (without the save button) it seemed to work, we didn't encounter any special issues. but maybe because it was a mock prototype and not real data.
    – Ami Rotter
    May 17, 2018 at 6:54
  • No worries. Did you test it against the other options? It may help for a comparison. How did you test it?
    – UIO
    May 17, 2018 at 6:56
  • We tested with an invision prototype. I think it feels a lot like a prototype and in this case there is a difference between this prototype and the real application. I usually test with Axure prototypes that feel more realistic. we didn't test the second option with the save button. that is what we have today in our old app.
    – Ami Rotter
    May 17, 2018 at 6:59
  • That’s great, invision is a great tool. I’d test your options agains each other and look at how the user is behaving, body language, eye and cursor movement just to see if they search for a save button or appear uncomfortable etc. If it makes it that bit more realistic, do the tests in Axure as it may give a better representation of the tool to the participants.
    – UIO
    May 17, 2018 at 7:02
  • 1
    If you go for the direct edit option, it's probably a good idea to add an undo function. Otherwise if I accidentally edit something I don't know what was there and can't go back.
    – Martyn
    May 17, 2018 at 21:23

The inline method seems fine for occasional edits, but if the user wants to change multiple cells it would probably get a bit tedious, having to click save each time.

Perhaps you could offer single cell editing by default (your first option), and some kind of batch/whole sheet editing as an optional mode, where the user can make edits to as many cells as they like and have some kind of global save/cancel action?

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