UPDATE: added mockups
We are in the process of designing a web application interface for administering an online store. In such an interface there are pages for managing products, orders, customers, where each page has potentially a large number of items.
We are constantly going back-and-forth between the following two solutions:
a) Table pattern. Clicking on an item takes you to a new page showing the item. For example,
/products page clicking on product
23 takes you to
/products/23, showing you the product.
b) List pattern. Have a scrollable list of items on the left (~20% width) and on clicking an item, shows the item on the right (~80% width). In other words, the same pattern as email clients (Mac mail, Outlook, etc).
On one hand a table pattern makes it easier to view items at a glance, but harder to navigate to specific items. On the other hand, with a list pattern it becomes harder to view a specific column (for example, view prices of products), but much easier to navigate through items.
When is a table the "proper" pattern to use? Obviously the decision depends on the data being presented (how many columns, how many rows). What are the factors to consider when assessing the different solutions?