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I have a large amount of data being drawn from a database to show on the iPhone screen. There will be around 100 fields for each record (100 records) Some will be links, Small images and some general textual data. Most of the fields will be under 20 characters long.

I want the user to be able to easily access the data. We can split it up into sections to an extent. I have thought about using a facebook style slide out but would prefer it to be on one page.

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2 Answers

This is a very difficult question to answer without understanding the usage patterns for your app. Who is accessing the data? Why are they accessing it? What are their goals?

There are a number of different progressive disclosure techniques that could be used to make a large volume of data usable on a small screen (e.g. sequential loading, disclosure arrows, detail sub-screens, etc.), but first you have to understand how your users will use your app in the real world. I'd strongly recommend doing some interviews with real users to find out what data is actually important, and what sorting mechanisms could be employed to make the data relevant to them. Rarely is a large list view what your users actually need.

For inspiration, I'd look at the built-in Contacts app on iPhone. One can have hundreds of contacts (individual records), all with many fields, and yet everything has a place and is easy to get to.

I'd also highly recommend reading Luke Wroblewski's latest book Mobile First, in which he talks about the constraints and opportunities that arise from small screens. He argues that constraints are actually a feature, as they force the designer to focus on their users needs more diligently -- a viewpoint I happen to share.

Good luck!

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Thank you for your response. You are correct. I think I need to have a discussion with the client to see how they wish to display the data. I have been looking at other applications like Sky Sport Football centre as its one I use regularly and displays a lot of data in list format. If anybody else has any examples of apps that would be great. –  Bannywhey Feb 29 '12 at 17:08
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@Bannywhey Remember, too, that your client may not be the end user, and even if they are, simply asking them how they want the data displayed may not get you very far. Rather, interviewing the end user about the real-world process that the data-usage maps onto is far more likely to yield meaningful results. –  Daniel Newman Feb 29 '12 at 17:17
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Isn't 10,000 (100 * 100) way to much information for an Iphone App. Anyways,

  1. Try and reduce as much information as you can (Although I'm myself working on an app where I have huge amount of data as well (200 list items * 8 fields)).

  2. Then categorize your data and build a structure / hierarchy in your data, this way you'll be able to display it in an efficient and usable manner (helped in my case).

  3. Put Search/ paging/ filtering in your app.

And like the guy in previous comment suggested, conduct a few end user interviews(if possible) to know the importance of different fields of information for user.

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