A common task in many applications is when an end user, and not necessarily a power user, has to upload and import a spreadsheet of data (.csv or .xls) from an external source so that the external records are saved in the application. Often the user has to verify and/or correct erroneous data.

I have seen applications take various approaches to this task, none of which are particularly user-friendly.

I am wondering:

  1. Are there any articles or papers written on the subject that provide research-backed guidance on this topic?

  2. Are there any applications (externally accessible) that you believe provide an exceptional end-user experience to what can be a troublesome task (especially when the UI is not friendly) for users who are not "power users"?

  • 3
    I think "uploading and verifying some data" is a bit to broad to be properly discussed here. What is the actual problem here? What is not user-friendly about what? Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


Most of the products follow Windows based guidelines for such general upload and import. But for verification, yes I agree there are not such research based guideline. I tried to address this in my project Informatica Cloud, you can register for free and try to upload flat file in source. Also you can refer Saleforce.com for some examples.


I'd say it is not very hard programming task for implementation. First, you should check every line for error. Checking for errors is easy performed with regular expressions. Records which have no errors are recorded to database.

Lines which have errors could be shown to user for error correction. Fields which contains errors are highlighted and editable. So a user could correct them. Also user could perform some other actions on each row.

enter image description here


At Flatfile, we've invested a lot of time and effort in getting the UX on this process right. Our product provides a plug & play UI wizard that allows the user to match columns in their file with your dataset (database fields) and steps them through resolving common errors (like unmatched columns or incorrectly formatted dates etc) before returning the uploaded data in JSON format - so your developers can work with it from there. We're currently working on V2 - which is even more powerful.

Flatfile screenshot

Before you design something yourself, why not check it out? Flatfile.io

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.