Anyone have guidelines (ideally backed up by scientific study) for the best way to format data in lists/tables/grids? I'm arguing with my group about name formats--I think we should always display first name first, but I also want to sort only on last name; their argument is that this is confusing to users, and I concede that when the name column is sorted, formatting as last name first may be legitimately easier to scan. But I insist (without anything to back up my claim) that first name first is otherwise a more natural way to present names.
So then what about dates? Given my user group, I'd always want to display good ol' American MM/dd/yyyy, but if we follow the logic of the formatted name, maybe we should be doing yyyy/MM/dd, at least when the data is sorted.
And what about more complex data? We have an address column, for example (all within the same state), that I was sorting city, zip, street name, house number. I don't see how anyone could argue for formatting that data the same way it's sorted. Any guidelines?