We have a big financial application that at the moment consists of list/view/edit pages. We have received some feedback from our users saying that it takes them too many clicks to browse/view/edit records. They want to have a way of while browsing a list page, be able to select a record, view it, and then be able to select another record, so in essence they want the list to be visible while they are also viewing a single record.
My initial thought, was having a master/detail design where it would solve this problem. The two most common designs I have found is two pane design and then top down approach (like an email client).
Our application is data intensive, so our list pages can contain a lot of necessary columns, so at first I thought the best way would be to create a design where list sits on top and when you select a record, a pane opens up at the bottom with the record you selected, giving you the ability to edit it.
So I guess my question is, is the top down approach the best solution to our problem? One of our competitors uses the left/right pane design, and they simply have a horizontal scrollbar on the left pane so the list table can have as many columns as needed and not conflict with the right pane.
The top down approach seems to work for email clients (even though they also have left/right) but I am not sure if it works well with a web application where the bottom pane will not simply be text, but also a form with possible modals popups and such.
Looking forward to your answers.