EDIT: I'm working on this page now and for the next couple of hours, so please don't bother looking at it.

I had many outstanding suggesting when I first asked this question five weeks ago.

The question evolved into "how to show the user the way table columns will be sorted?"

I modified the page so that it now claims to show, as a confirmation, a list of the columns to be sorted; and the sort orders of those columns. Could I ask you to take a look again at the page, with its huge table and tell me how you react to the solution?

EDIT: to make the question explicit.

My question: Can you tell, after selecting a column by clicking its header cell, what the page is going to do? How it will evolve? IOW, when you select a column for sorting, do you see a confirmation of your select action?

If you see the confirmation, is it completely obvious, clear, and unambiguous?

If you don't see the confirmation, please tell me so.

The page works OK in FF 3.16, Safari 5.0.3, and Chrome 12; but to be happy again, IE 8 demands that more virgins be sacrificed.

  • 1
    'Please look at my design and tell you what you think' is not really a question, what exactly are you trying to find out?
    – Marielle
    Jul 23, 2011 at 14:26
  • @Marielle -- Thanks, I'll edit to make the question clearer. Jul 23, 2011 at 15:14
  • @Pete This isn't a real question. UX.SE isn't the place to go if you just want feedback on your design. I recommend you visit the chat and ask there. In the future, try phrasing the question in such a way that it would be valuable to someone else in the future, although generally "Last time I asked X, here's what I did, what do you think?" will not make for a good question.
    – Rahul
    Jul 23, 2011 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


It's not clear what you're asking, except "Take a look at my design, tell me what you think". As such, there's not much I can do except describe my immediate reactions to the interface, good and bad.

The good:

Your interface doesn't use much vertical screen estate. That's good for users who want to compare a lot of data simultaneously. Your tooltips are explicit, even when controls are unclear (though perhaps your intended users, stockbrokers, would be familiar with your abbreviations)

The bad:

I have no idea how to operate that interface. I try to sort columns by clicking their headers, but nothing happens. There's no obvious 'sort' function. Also, I couldn't tell how to force ascending / descending sorts until I accidentally rested my cursor on a cryptic looking triangular... thing, at which point a helpful tooltip came up.

I had no idea what 'MAN' did until I hovered over it. It's wasn't clear that I was selecting columns for sorting when I highlight them until I accidentally switched 'MAN' to 'AUT' (auto-refresh?). It's confusing that I have to refresh the data to sort the results.

The ugly:

It's hard to read the table itself - you should alternate the background colours of different columns and rows to make tracing lines easier.


Needs serious work communicating the sort function. Make your table more readable and look at making 'auto refresh' the default behaviour, so it becomes clear what I'm doing as I highlight the rows.

  • Thanks for your very detailed impresions and comments. Yes, auto-refresh should be the default; it's manual-refresh only while I'm debugging. You think background-color striping on rows and columns? I'll try that! Thank you again for your very helpful effort. Jul 23, 2011 at 15:40
  • Your most useful comment by far had to do with sort. (The thing doesn't sort immediately on selecting a col head because of the possibility that the guy wants a multi-column sort. That whole idea is still a vexing UI question.) The "refresh" button should never say "refresh" or show a refresh icon; instead, it should say "Sort" or "Sort Table": that's what the user is interested in, not some esoteric, developer-lingo "refresh" function. So thanks again. You're a great help. That one observation was well worth the price of admission. Jul 23, 2011 at 20:19

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