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

Pagination

Hover Actions

Inline Editing

Expandable Rows

Quick View

Modal

Multi-Modal

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.

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