9 Creative Table UI Design Tips
Data is everywhere and every industry be it Retail and e-commerce, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, finance or government is maintaining a huge amount of data in some or another way. Many companies who have been market leaders, know the value of data. For example, Asian paints was one of the few companies which had supercomputers to maintain the data of customers and understand their needs and behaviour.
However, data is just a raw material like salt, or wood, without the ability to visualize and act upon it. In this analytics world, it is necessary to present data in a form such that it can become interpretable and information can be fetched out of it.
There comes the need of using a good Table UI because a good aforethought data interaction experience in enterprise software design can improve clarity, allows users to interact and analyze data, and maximize the potential of data.
What is a table UI design?
Table UI design are those elements/components that use rows and columns to display information in a grid view. However, a quality Table UI is not limited to displaying information of data but also includes buttons, hyperlinks, and scrolling for making it interactive and helping in the decision-making process.
The purpose of Table UI is to visualize the data in a better way so that users can quickly scan, compare, sort, and filter the data to extract the information from the data.
DronaHQ solves this purpose with a pre-built Table UI component; Table Grid Control is used to fetch the data from a data source like a database, API endpoints i.e. REST, GraphQL or gRPC and display the contents in a tabular grid format. It provides you with various functionalities such as searching, sorting, filtering, refreshing and even downloading the data in CSV format. You can also add actions such as add, delete, and update data, and even custom action buttons to perform specific tasks.
DronaHQ table UI supports various data types for columns, ranging from text to date and time to geolocation.
Applications of these data types that can be used in Table UI:
- A table UI for the sales team might include details of their potential customers such as name, number, and email along with actionable cells to place a call or write an email straight from the table.
- Table UI for a site inspection list can have a column of map/geolocation to help end users access a map to navigate.
- For the quality assurance team of an e-commerce website, the table UI can consist of product details with fields like the URL of the product page, ratings of the product, and multiple category tags.
When and why to use a table UI design?
We have alternatives like various types of charts and dashboards to show and visualize data in an informative pattern, which makes it difficult to answer “when we should use a table UI design”.
Table UI design should be used when there’s a need to display a large number of datasets to users in such a way they can easily interact with them to understand them. This methodology is preferred by most designers and product teams, they believe that good data tables allow users to scan, analyze, compare, filter, sort, and manipulate information to derive insights and commit actions with a better user experience.
Data tables play a deceptively crucial role in user interfaces, Here’s why you need a good Table UI design:
- Good use of space: So your data is integrated into the table, giving more space on your interface. Simply put, the UI table provides more space to add more elements to your design.
- Clean and neat layout and outlook: With Table UI design, your data or information is presented in an organized manner, providing a cleaner and more straightforward layout for your page.
- Reducing design complexity: UI table removes and reduces the complexity of a page design by removing all unnecessary information from the design.
- Easy to Modify: Table UI design can be customized easily. Using the user interface table, users can easily understand and extract information.
- Improve loading speed: Disorganized or scattered information on a page can cause a slow loading speed. To increase loading speed, you need to present your data in a compressed manner.
What makes your Table UI effective?
Tables basically play three roles in a data-centric application:
- It allows users to read and search multiple database records at once.
- Display attributes that allow users to identify the right item for their needs.
- Allow users to perform actions on the desired rows.
These roles vary with the functionality of an application, along with its data model.
Let’s say you ran a franchise business and wanted to create a sales chart to track the performance of each of your locations. If you only had a few stores, you could simply view each store’s unique identifiers as well as their current sales per month.
Here the table would represent the range of UI you would need.
However, in the case of a larger franchise business, you will likely need to move between aggregate data points for different regions or countries, as well as sift through individual store data.
In this case, the table component itself would likely be just one part of a broader dashboard interface.
Here are our top 9 tips for designing a table UI
These tips will help you in building a better and more streamlined table UI for your users
Simple and clean Table design
Overloading users with so much information might make it difficult for users to capture the required information. Avoiding this will reduce the visual noise on tables. When designing tables, keeping the constraint of horizontal space in mind is crucial.
Design for your end users
Irrespective of what your role/job is it is of very high importance to build anything or everything after understanding the end-users. The understanding of users comprises their preferences, pain points, and workflows.
That is, the design decisions which you will make will depend on how your tools are being used.
For example, if we had a user base that consists of the age group 55-75, we’d need to reflect this in the design of our tables. This could be done by providing tips/guides at each possible step of the workflow, providing accessibility needs like opting for larger text, more prominent calls to action or greater spacing between different elements on the screen.
Making table UIs for mobile devices is a bit complex. Usually, it is difficult to fit the table interface in a narrow-width layout. Displaying a table with more than 3 columns is possible only by horizontal scrolling which is a counterintuitive task in itself.
The possible ways to tackle this problem are:
- Limit the number of columns for mobile devices
- Provide filters to show essential information
Using filters before fetching data
Applying filters before fetching data governs how data is retrieved from the large set of databases and displayed in Table UI. These can be based on user behaviour, back-end attributes, or any other factors the app handles.
For example, we might set a condition to display fewer columns if a user uses a mobile device to access the table. Alternatively, we could build two entirely separate table UIs, and only display one or the other based on the current user’s device.
We might display additional elements for users with higher access roles, or even hide different data at certain times of the day.
Users can be provided with two choices, that is, either user scrolls through all entries at once or divides the data into different pages aka pagination.
Let’s understand it from two points of view:
- User point of view:
When data is small, it becomes easy to scroll through but for large data sets, scrolling might become a hectic task to scan through the data.Pagination can make it easier for users to scroll through displayed data because they only see a small subset of all items at any given time.However, some users prefer to be able to browse through all items. This largely comes down to user preferences.
- Technical point of view:
Paging can also provide performance benefits. Obviously, when your UI only needs to display a few items at a time, rather than thousands, it’s technically easier to handle.The best practice is to use pagination for larger data sets to improve performance and scanning easily.
Making table UI design interactive can greatly influence users’ efficiency and usability.
Table UI design can be made more interactive by providing:
- Button to see a detailed view of a row
- Using modals to add, update, and delete the data from the table itself.
Using detail view in a tray-type screen
When the data items inside the table are large and cannot be displayed within the width, the detail view helps in displaying large data items by expanding it.
While using mobile devices it might become impossible to read data like addresses or emails which are sometimes very long. In that case, using a detailed view is the best option.
Colour / branding
It is pretty important to maintain proper visual design and colour schemes throughout the application.
The points to keep in mind:
- There needs to be consistency across all the components
- Use contrasting colours to highlight the important stuff.
- Make sure that the colour contrasts with text.
The choice of colours impacts table UI’s wider usability, including with regard to accessibility. Using colours with high contrast helps users, including those with visual impairments, to quickly locate priority information and interactive elements.
Colouring CTAs and highlighting important rows such that it grabs the attention of users, thus making it easy for users to interpret.
Role Based Views
Providing role-based views to users makes the data more personalized and easy to understand for specific users.
For example, Creating dedicated table UIs for each internal role to provide the right user experience for each distinct user group.
Using a good table UI design can greatly influence users’ efficiency and usability. Creating data tables is one of the most repetitive and time-consuming tasks that most developers settle for. But by using low code platforms to make table UI and following the tips discussed above it becomes quite easy to implement.
DronaHQ is a great platform to start experimenting with low code. You can build amazing Table UI design by using built-in controls such as table grid control. With this, you can provide custom action buttons and customize the table grid to make it more interactive.
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