In what cases would you justify adding the ability to Expand All/Collapse all to pages where there are individually collapsed sections?

  • 3
    It would help if you provide more context - what is being shown and what is being collapsed? It's hard to justify anything without context.
    – Izhaki
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 21:50
  • For example, when we are looking at a summary screen and several sections within it are collapsed.
    – user94098
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 17:04
  • 3
    That's still not enough context. What is the actual user story?
    – Izhaki
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 20:15

5 Answers 5


Collapsing - When there's a lot of options within those tree nodes and the user might want to collapse the tree into a manageable list before navigating again (unless the user really likes a lot of scrolling).

Expanding - This is useful when the user doesn't know exactly where a sub-node is and would rather search for it. (this assumes your web-page or application allows for some kind of search on the treeview list).


It is always justified to provide the expand all / collapse all options while dealing with information distributed among various sections.

Every web designer must keep in mind that not all users are same. Some would prefer to have all sections expanded, taking in all the information in one go. While others may prefer opening one section at a time.

There is virtually no difficulty in providing the Expand/Collapse All buttons. But it often improves the browsing experience considerably.

  • 1
    Something that is always justified is a dogma. For all other things, most people recognise that the world is made of spectrums, rather than boolean options. In fact, Scott E Page in his book on diversity has a formal proof why no rule will ever be appropriate to any problem, unless the problem is terribly simple. This is especially true in UX, where context is often ignored. If I have configured my Google Inbox to cluster my emails in StackExchange and Bills categories, why would I ever need both open? Specifically if the items in each will result in already cognitive load below the optimal?
    – Izhaki
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 20:13
  • Well I am standing by with what I've said. Even if someone were to provide the expand/collapse all button on a page where it is not required, users won't use it. Its presence is not going to cause any degradation in the UX. Also, in all but extremely small pages this function would be meaningful. Hence if you have these sections collapsing individually, you might as well add the expand/collapse all button. Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 2:37
  • The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
    – Izhaki
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 9:41

There is an argument for page load times here too. I've recently done some work on testing the impact of expandable/collapsible assets on various webpages.

It works a treat on smaller screen resolutions e.g. mobile as you can provide the user the option of seeing the expanded information then once they are done they can collapse to save displaying a needlessly long web page on their device.

During testing we found simply proving an option of expanding/collapsing increased interaction and decreased load times as the content only loads once the user decides to view it.


As per my encounter with the Collapsing and Expanding following would be the cases :

  • In case if you are selecting options from multiple section and the number of option with in the section is high. It will be ease for user to use the feature.

  • To show high level summary and its details one at a time.

  • If the screen offering multiple option and user will select the interested one and upon click/tap it will show desired options/details/menus etc.


One way to justify this interaction is if you have an unlimited number of items that can be included in the parent element and/or if users have a sequential workflow where they need to see all to accomplish a task, but don't need that context later, so they are enabled to get rid of visual noise to allow them to focus on the next task.

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