Problem: How should the information be organized?
The columns themselves should be organized logically. Depending upon your purpose, they may be organized with the most commonly needed data immediately after the item name, and in decreasing order of importance as you move from left to right. Or they may be organized in groups, with the group names above the column names (Small Groups of Related Things). The best organization will depend upon the data and the user's purposes.
If it's reasonable to do so, allow the user to adjust column widths, column order, and sort order. Many user-interface toolkits for computer applications provide these capabilities.
Resulting Context: If there's no obvious way to indicate that the columns are manipulable (e.g. sortable, or with changeable widths), at least use Pointer Shows Affordance. Remembered State gives you a way to set up the column states according to how the user arranged them last time.
Notes: Howard Wainer's book Visual Revelations
has a brief but good chapter about table design. It's worth reading
if you will be designing a lot of these.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell. All rights reserved.