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i have a business application (desktop, no web). Different values ​​are entered in forms. These are then displayed in tables (grids). Numbers are displayed right-aligned in the table (as in Excel). Should the data be displayed in the same way in the form? Is the content in the form field right-aligned (Option A)? Option A, B, C are opportunities. They all show editable-mode. Note: there can be dozens of input fields on the forms.

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I would say yes. Option A. But I see a downside to eye tracking.

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How would you proceed? How do you handle it? Important: it is not an app, not a web version. It is a B2B application for professionals.

Thank you,

Alex

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The important thing here is to consider the use cases.

There are a few things to consider, and I think you've hit on probably the main one, eye tracking, and in your example you've given an example with two fields.

The reason I mention this is that if you have 1000 fields and only one of them is a number, you should consider how important it is to draw attention to this vs a text field. The reason many spreadsheet tools do this is twofold:

  1. To indicate the change in formatting
  2. To allow comparison between rows (Comparing £10 to £1000 is easier if values are right aligned)

The reason this becomes important is that:

a) if there is only numeric entry, or many fields are many are numeric, right alignment allows you to compare inputs.

b) If there is no need yield the benefits of horizontal comparison based on alignment or the majority of entry is text (not number) based the negatives of right alignment and the impact on tracking will likely outweigh that of right aligning numeric values.

A good example of why right align text alignment makes content harder to read is here: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/right-justified-navigation-menus/ but there are equalling compelling arguements for showing right aligned numeric content in tables, so input vs output is important as well as row/field comparison.

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  • Thank you. I also think it's important whether you have to compare values. The question now is: in order to remain consistent across the entire software, it makes sense to decide on a variant. Consistency or depending on the case?
    – alex123456
    Dec 29, 2020 at 23:41
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    Another thing to consider is whether you're dealing with input values or the view data and decide on an approach for each (they don't have to be the same). But should be consistent with the same approach elsewhere in the app 'in general' but there are always be special cases, so you should pick the right approach for the screen and then likely re-asses whether this warrants changing things elsewhere. Dec 30, 2020 at 8:05
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Option A is the default horizontal alignment in Google Sheets too, but I also see the eye tracking problem that you mention and I think it affects both web and desktop applications.

Maybe this alignment is already familiar to some users for cells without label in spreadsheets, but for fields with a label I prefer option B because it allows the user to read in one direction: ↓

This article from Luke Wroblebski about eye tracking in web forms could be a good starting point for further research: https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?374

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    thank you. But I am not sure, what you mean with Google Sheets. You talk about Google Forms, right? When I create a simple Google Sheets Form, I can`t decide if the alignment of the textbox is left or right. It is always left alignment. No matter if I type "abc" or "123" in the finished form.
    – alex123456
    Dec 29, 2020 at 19:55
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    I thought about Google Sheets (spreadsheet) because you mentioned Excel in your question. Spreadsheet software is probably the most used software among B2B professional users so most of them are already used to "Option A" behaviour. One of the differences between spreadsheets and your software is that the fields in your software have a label and that affects eye tracking.
    – Jordi Jove
    Dec 30, 2020 at 8:40

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