Label vs. Value (a rebuttal)

Paul has argued that values should have emphasis placed on them because their contents are generally more important than their label (go read his post for his reasoning, then come back here to read the rest of this). I, however, feel there’s a good reason that labels should be emphasized as they usually are:

If you have a series of label/value pairs, the content of the value is going to vary HUGELY across datasets. However, labels are known quantities. Because of this, our eyes can quickly pick up the word “name”, and then shift to read the value much quicker than to scan a list of unknown values and then shift to find out what the value is for (ie, what the label is). By emphasizing the values with both size/strength/positioning relative to the value consistently, it makes it that much easier for our eyes to pick out what the label is, and thus find the value.And of course, because labels remain consistent, it becomes easier for our eyes to pick out and recognize those symbols.

Even scanning your post, it takes longer in your second example for me to find that “Paul Jarvis” is your name, rathe than in the first example to find that your “name” is Paul Jarvis. Now expand that list of label/value pairs to say, 10 or 15, or even worse, 50. Suddenly, finding individual data is much harder, so the ability to scan quickly becomes even more important.

4 Replies to “Label vs. Value (a rebuttal)”

  1. great points!

    i guess my only thing is for all the app’s i’ve designed lately the labels have been easily recognizable by their values, stuff like: name, email, phone, address – so with those sorts of things, the labels are known based on the values, and when scanning it’s quicker for me to bold values since it’s obvious what the labels are.

    but things like what you describe, where you are scanning by label to then find out what the value of said label is, your way makes a whole lot more sense.

  2. great points!

    i guess my only thing is for all the app’s i’ve designed lately the labels have been easily recognizable by their values, stuff like: name, email, phone, address – so with those sorts of things, the labels are known based on the values, and when scanning it’s quicker for me to bold values since it’s obvious what the labels are.

    but things like what you describe, where you are scanning by label to then find out what the value of said label is, your way makes a whole lot more sense.

  3. Not sure where to post this but I saw it here first:
    I agree with Steve. To be honest, if you are going to go the route of “giving more” to the values then why even have the lables? It seems like your examples are stuff that are so obvious (names, phone numbers, etc…) that we have no need for the labels at all and so just eliminate them. If it is a case where the labels are not as obvious OR if there is more than 1 records than you need to have the values with much smaller emphasis.

  4. Not sure where to post this but I saw it here first:
    I agree with Steve. To be honest, if you are going to go the route of “giving more” to the values then why even have the lables? It seems like your examples are stuff that are so obvious (names, phone numbers, etc…) that we have no need for the labels at all and so just eliminate them. If it is a case where the labels are not as obvious OR if there is more than 1 records than you need to have the values with much smaller emphasis.

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