I am working on the UX of a low-code development platform where I need to have an tree explorer and a properties panel for different items in both the explorer and the components in the middle section.

My thoughts are to go for a layout similar to Axure, Sketch and other such tools where the exploring panels would be on the left side while the property editing and configuration on the right side.

What do you think of this? Do you know of any research done on this paradigm?

  • 2
    This is only my interpretation, but the layer or page selecting being on the left, and the property editing/configuring on the right, may be because of the fact we read left to read in Western languages and also view progress from left to right. Layers and folders are top level, while properties are layer specific. Nov 15, 2017 at 10:09
  • If possible, implementing a way for the panels to be dragged around and moved to different parts of the window allows users to set up the environment the way that they like (personally I like the explorer and object properties on the same side).
    – user106292
    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:02
  • Yes, we are also planning to implement resizing and pop-out from the panel the different sections.
    – Ioana
    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:31

3 Answers 3


The arrangement of the panels is done according to master-detail relationship from left to right (in LTR languages),

So in your case, it sound right, explore will control the content, and properties is controlled by the content.

Here is an interesting article:



It sounds like that would be fine, though I'd put the left and right panels in collapsible trays so that the user can hide them and increase the amount of space for development.

If they are collapsed by the user, perhaps they can automatically expand if the user does something that requires their visibility (like searching for a file, inspecting an element, etc.)

I do like the comment about letting the user drag the panels around, because some people use vertical viewports.


This way is a deprecated old-fashion way to mark up data on the pages.

First of all, you should check your users' knowledge level, second, you should be aware of cognitive items load on any size of screens and care about the item crowding. This case is similar to a dashboard. best practices of this kind products are "WordPress", "Squarespace" or this kind of publication products. (check the mobile versions for checking smaller screens). These products are good for this kind of designs but their not as modern as some platforms like "Medium". development, publication or any kind of production dashboards need simplicity for getting better usability for users. check the products I named and look for the differences of mobile and desktop version. looking to them would learn a lot of things in your case.

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