Design better data tables

The ingredients of a successful data table UI

Andrew Coyle
May 7, 2017 · 3 min read

Data is useless without the ability to visualize and act on it. The success of future industries will combine advanced data collection with better user experience, and the data table comprises much of this user experience.

Good data tables allow users to scan, analyze, compare, filter, sort, and manipulate information to derive insights and commit actions. This article presents a list of design structures, interaction patterns, and techniques to help you design better data tables.

Fixed Header

Horizontal Scroll

Resizable columns

Row Style

Zebra Stripes, Line Divisions, Free Form.

Display Density

Visual Table Summary


Hover Actions

Inline Editing

Expandable Rows

Quick View



Row to Details

Sortable Columns

Basic Filtering

Filter Columns

Searchable Columns

Add Columns

Customizable Columns

Why Tables Matter

Data is becoming the raw material of the global economy. The pursuit of data drives the reinvention of antiquated industries. Energy, media, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, retail, finance, and even the government are undergoing a digital transformation.

However, data is meaningless without the ability to visualize and act upon it. The companies that survive the next decade will not only have superior data; they will have a superior user experience.

Good user interface design is based on human goals and behavior. The user interface in-turn affects behavior, which drives further design decisions. In subtle and unconscious ways, user experience alters how humans make decisions. What is seen, where it is presented, and how interactions are afforded, influence actions. It is important we make design decisions that lead to a better world, one data table design at a time.

It takes hours of research and attention to create content like this article. Please give it a few claps to motivate me to keep writing. It’s free for you but means a lot to me.

For more:

Follow NextUX | Find me on Twitter


The future of iteration

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store