Displaying a large amount of tabular data on a smaller screen

Hi all,

I’m looking for some advice really. :slight_smile:

I’ve been asked by someone if I’d help redesign their site, making it more flexible and accessible.
Without wanting to bore anyone with details the site allows visitors to search through a database of architectural details. The results are displayed as a large table of data (and I mean large, there’s in excess of 20 column headings) and therein lies the problem; how to present that large table of data to smaller screens and still make it meaningful.
When I say smaller screens I really mean tablets, that amount of data really rules out mobiles immediately.

Has anyone else come across this issue?
I’ve had a scan through the forum but I didn’t manage to find it discussed anywhere else.

Thanks in advance for any help and/or advice.


I’m in the process of developing a business app for mobile that has a similar scenario, how to condense the functionality of a complex web app with a large database and complex search and selection capabilities to something both useful but compact. In my case it was necessary to present only the bare minimum data to the user in the initial ‘search/selection’, and then allow the user to progressively swipe right into more views where secondary less important and less commonly accessed data could be shown. I came to the conclusions on these by studying user behaviour on the site and the web app stats on what users were submitting/searching for - it was a classic ‘pareto principle’ situation where most users only did simple stuff, only a minority used all the functionality. This ties in to a certain extent with apple ‘human interface’ guidelines - each view should only have one major function rather than trying to cram too much onto one page. There will almost certainly be another way of accessing the data rather than thinking in terms of a 2d grid - a series of 1d selections i.e lists is more suitable to the limited interface space you have.

Thanks for your reply EastCoast. Although I’m thinking more responsive design than mobile app, it’s certainly given me plenty of food for thought; a series of selections to drill down into the data rather than trying to cram everything onto one screen. Yes I can definitely see that’s the way to go.
Many thanks again.