I have to design a data table which is going to be 288 rows and 15 in size. I want to make it easy for users to input data efficiently. The data covers an entire day, in 5 minutes intervals, i.e. (60min * 24hr ) / 5min intervals equals 288 rows.

As per research this is how they input data:

  1. Most of the users put same data across columns
  2. During some critical situations they put similar data upto some rows e.g. till 60 rows data will be same, next 40 rows data will be same and so on.
  3. Users sometimes do copy-paste data directly from excel sheets.

I was planning to have a collapsible table where users can select time duration and enter bulk values which will populate for that entire time duration. But If I do this, copy and paste from excel will be an issue.

Updated: The table attached is the old design with 48 rows, now it has to be updated to 288 rows. And users will try to put repetitive data across number of some set of rows(depends upon the situation, can't predict it).

enter image description here

  • 2
    Please add a mockup of what you were thinking. Is input the problem? Could you be a little more specific about the problem you are facing? The question could pose being quite broad if the entire design is to be considered.
    – Ren
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 8:26
  • Sounds bloody awful, what's the use case for this, ask yourself - who will use this application? Why would they use this application? This should help people give you the HOW are they going to use this application. Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 8:10
  • @Ren Have updated the question with the mockup. Yes input is problem. The table attached is the old design with 48 rows, now it has to be updated to 288 rows. And users will try to put repetitive data across number of some set of rows(depends upon the situation, can't predict it).
    – Madhuri UX
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 23:48
  • @DarrylGodden That is what I have mentioned in the question why and how they are doing it. Have updated the question with the mock up. Hope it helps. If you have any particular question please feel free to ask.
    – Madhuri UX
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 23:49
  • What are they putting into the sheet and why? Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 9:17

2 Answers 2


Is it possible to communicate with the system / app via API? Probably the end users are using Excel / Spreadsheets for their work on a daily basis and they shouldn't have to leave their favorite editor. With Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet you have the ability to communicate with the database via an API.

Also they can fetch / update the data by a click and filter/sort them, creating additional pivot tables or updatable custom reports with diagrams without copy/pasting table data between two system.

Of course the main problem with this method if you push the data to the system it will overwrite the existing data but you can set limits on the editable cells to prevent any unwanted changes or implementing somekind of change management too.


I think @gabramov's answer is the best considering the upkeep costs of a custom GUI. The same 'integration' route is also more flexible to work with new forms of systems as tech stacks evolve.

If you find you must design a custom data table GUI, then you will maximize your benefit by instituting data entry customizations that are not available in the already-robust suite of Spreadsheet GUI features.

"Improving on the spreadsheet" is an age-old beer drinking topic in the UX world, but to that pursuit, here are a couple possibilities:

  • allow the user to select cells, and then type an input that will be entered into all of them in realtime. Ideally this would allow the same selects that spreadsheets normally do: row, col, 2D area, or control-key to select disconnected cells.
  • allow the user to hold a set of control keys, and then drag the mouse to select all cells under the mouse-pointer. This is akin to 'painting' a selection. (then update all with the data entry)
  • allow the user to switch the default value for all of a given range of rows/cols/cells. Changing that default changes all related defaults, as long as they have not input an override value in that cell.
  • Create a panel/sidebar GUI that allow the users to define ranges of cells with a default, and give each range a name, label, or comments. Allow new sheets (for other days) to reuse those named ranges, turning the on or off. This is akin to a stylesheet in a word-processing app. The names that operators give for the ranges will teach you valuable product information.

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