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First, hello to everyone since this is my first post in ux.stackexchange.com.

Now to my question:

Right now I have really simplistic view containing a search input + button and a jQuery datatable which is displayed only on find results after the search. Here is how it looks:

Search and display

So as I said really simplistic. The data represents entities with similar properties. Now, the idea is that when you click on a certain entity (row in the datatable) a simple report should be displayed for this particular entity. And since the table contains entities of the same type, even if you select another row/entity, the values will be different but the structure of the report will remain the same. Basically the report will be several charts (3 to 5) and some text.

However my question is regarding how to display this report.

  1. Modal - since there is a potential (but not 100% sure) that a user may want to see reports for several entities a thought that maybe a modal will make sense since it creates the feeling of logical separation but yet it's easy to get back and load another report. However, after a discussion with a colleague I get the argument the in the future the report may grow in size, maybe it won't fit in one screen and (this is just my and my colleagues understanding) the modals are not meant to show a large amounts of data.

  2. Dedicated page When we were presented with the task, the PO mentioned that it won't be a problem even if we display the report in dedicated page. Since I was still thinking how to logically separate the search functionality from the display functionality this idea also appealed to me, for the reasons I've just mentioned, it gives the user clean separation of the different parts of the application - here is where you search, and this is where you see the data. However, thinking more about it, one big cons that come to mind is that each time that you want to see another report you will need to go through the navigation to open again the search page and since I'm still not very sure what is the expected use-case - is it most likely that a user will be searching for a particular entity and wanting to see report only for it, or opens several reports, I think this approach actually is no very user friendly.

  3. Display the report below the data table - So first I was strongly against this. For me searching and reporting have enough difference to keep them logically and visually separated. However, thinking more and more about the different options I'm getting to think that this might actually be the best way to serve the data. Yes, you will have a search input, a data table below it, and then a report with, which is a little bit messy for my test, but it gives an easy way for the user to apply new search criteria or generate reports for different entities.

For now I think there is no need to show the report itself (even though if you think it's important I can include some mock up) but what I would like to hear is what you think would be the best user experience? If my initial reaction wasn't so strongly against displaying the report on the same page as the search functionality maybe I would go for this option, but now I wonder. I would also be glad to read some alternative ideas.

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We build a lot of software that contains reporting features like this. We've tried different alternatives and have found that it's best to show the report on the same page as the search/filtering if the user is likely to view multiple reports. This makes it fast for the user which is often important if they have to view a lot of them.

The downside of this approach is that it can be a bit messy and having it all on one page can be distracting to the user. To combat this, it helps to visually separate the search section from the report section. Further, we find it useful to hide the search section one a report has been selected, with an easy way to bring it back. E.g. search fields and results are kept in a collapsible panel that is collapsed automatically when a selection is made.

If they're likely to only view one or two reports, then putting in on a new page can work as well. If you choose to do this, I would ensure that there is enough information in the search results table for them to pick the right report (avoid them going back and forth if they make a mistake), and provide an easy way to return to the search.

  • Thanks, good info and tips. I was also thinking about new page with very explicit way to easily go back to the search page. Now that you are also mentioning it I'm starting to think that maybe this could be a very good option. – Leron Jul 25 '18 at 15:30

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