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I'm creating a web app that requires the user to input about 720 different values (in the form of a 12 x 60 table).

For example:

Note: Each row of the table pertains to a specific item (e.g. the amount of "A" over 60 minutes).

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I've considered the use of a graph for each row. Meaning the user will have an interactive graph that they could drag to represent the proper change in "A" at each time step, but again, this is just as tedious, it just might look better.

Or possibly the use of functions where f(x) represents the behaviour of A, but this may be difficult for the user to understand and harder yet for them to come up with the proper function (if one even exists).

So my question is:

What would be the best way to handle such a situation that makes it the least tedious for the user?

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Understand your users and their workflows.

How does the user receive the data?

Is this data output from a report in another system? Maybe you could eliminate manual entry altogether by building an import or supporting a copy/paste or copy/paste/process.

Are they seeing the data by minute (row)? Or by hour (column)? That would likely determine what happens when a user presses enter (goes down the column or across the row).

Are the users split (some get it hourly and others get it by minute)? Then maybe it should behave like a spreadsheet (tab/shift-tab for right/left, enter/shift-enter for down/up)

Are there commonalities or patterns?

If hour 1, minute 1 is a 3 does that mean that minute 1 of subsequent hours is likely to be a 3? Then a copy across option might make sense. If hour 1, minute 1 of 3 means subsequent minutes are likely to be 3s, then a copy down makes sense.

Does the data follow common patterns? You may be able to detect those patterns and pre-fill. Or give the user a set of patterns to choose from.

Maybe it makes sense to copy a day from the previous week or an hour from earlier that day, week, month, etc.

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If all fields need to be filled-up it would be nice not to distract the user in any way. A continuous form is more sensible, less distraction and would give them the easy flow than navigating when you break things into parts.

The right approach, is to ask users how they complete the activity. Mindful of the things that would make them suffer if certain step or functionality is remove (like copy and paste). If this thing is new, the only way is to run a pre-build testing that would mimic the activity.

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