If you have a table where each row can be selected, and you are only allowed to select one row at a time, and selecting a row causes a drill-down table to appear to the side, how would you render the "selectable" table?
For the tables, would you rather:
Use separate pages
Use a nested > nested grid pattern
Use a modal window at some point
For the action of selecting, would you rather:
- Use an input button that reads "Select"? (particularly awful in my view)
Use a text only link that reads "Select"?
Use a text link that reads "Select" along with a small icon (16px x 16px)?
Use an icon only?
Use radio buttons?
Use only the row itself; i.e., make the entire row clickable, with no "extras"?
After reading the accepted answer at: When to use icons vs. icons with text vs. just text links?, I'm leaning a bit towards the combination of text with an icon.
And when you can't just select a row by clicking on it...
Then to further complicate the issue: what if you cannot make your entire row selectable, because you will have multiple actions possible: Select, Edit, Update, Cancel, Remove, and the like?
Here's a mock-up of the interface as it was originally sent to me, and which I have no intention of using! It used an ASP.NET gridview, which is out-of-the-box ugly.
This screenshot doesn't quite do the issue justice, the tables will have more fields and have more rows than I'm able to display here in this small space. The original developer's intention was to try to fit everything into one screen so you wouldn't have to go back-and-forth between pages, but once more fields are added, there's no way it can work they way it was originally made.
Update 2 Here are some examples of icons only in a table.
Weightshift - design for AIGA cms - http://weightshift.com/work/aiga-cms-design
And here's an example that while you might consider best-practice because text is included, the table becomes cluttered and ugly, and the column size jumps around because of the varying text length. Some have tried to make the text links the same size, no matter what you click as you update the table, and that just serves to further de-emphasize the actual data. - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc163933.aspx