I have a table of items and when I click on an item, the details open in the same view. So, to view another item, I need to go back and click on another one.

To avoid the back and forth, I want to implement 'new tabs' within the application for the user to switch views.

Is this bad user experience? What alternatives do I have?

A screenshot for reference that shows the amount of data.

Image of current app I'm redesigning

  • Can you try overlay/modal window ? Oct 26, 2018 at 11:21
  • I have that in mind. But I don't really like modals for anything other than basic HTML fields.
    – Babbzzz
    Oct 26, 2018 at 13:54
  • As a visual designer I don't "like" modals very much either. However, that's a bad reason to avoid a commonly understood pattern that was invented to solve this specific type of problem. Oct 26, 2018 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


Tabs don't seem like a good solution to a list -> details problem. Unless you're hoping to allow comparisons BETWEEN detail screens. In that case tabs are great but they still won't solve the "going back to a list" problem very well.

If you're struggling with the back issue, I would suggest putting your detail content in an overlay/modal especially if your common use case is on desktop. This allows things like "list scroll position" to be maintained and gives the user context for where they are. Eg: "I just clicked this row and it expanded onto the screen, I must be 'in' the row..."


Try implementing a split view, similar to Outlook:

  1. Keeps your table open, allowing the user to click through many rows and viewing all their details in one screen.
  2. Give user the option to have both split view and open new page behaviors to satisfy each people's working habits.
  3. Alternatively, you could use the modal or new page behavior but introduce Back/Next buttons for users to clickthrough multiple rows in detail view.

enter image description here


You could use Breadcrumbs.

There are 3 kinds:

  • Location-based - showing where the user is in the hierarchy of pages
  • Path-based - showing users the steps they’ve taken to arrive at the current page.
  • Attribute-based - display the attributes of the particular page (e.g. product categories)

breadcrumb types

Path based breadcrumbs sound like they would be a good fit for your particular use case.

  • i'm not sure how breadcrumbs would solve my problem. Do you mean have different tabs named as paths?
    – Babbzzz
    Oct 26, 2018 at 13:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.