I'm trying to find the best way to display hierarchy information and to allow the user to explore structural information. At the moment there are the following levels but there could be more potentially:

Field > Installation > Substructure Group > Substructure > Component

The first option that came to my mind is a Tree View but I am not sure it's the best way of achieving this as so many levels of hierarchy can end up in something slow and hard to interact with.

Another idea I'm considering is a number of panels from left to right conveying the hierarchy (similar to what Finder in OSX does) but this would just work well for up to a few levels so I still have the impression that there must be a better way of achieving this.

Do you guys have any suggestion?

Many thanks!

  • ux.stackexchange.com/a/118547/107234 You can refer to my answer for a possible solution
    – Sheraz
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 13:01
  • Some of the answer may depend on how much information you need to display (and/or take action upon) at each of those levels.
    – Mattynabib
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


As for the mechanism part, I could not comment on anything existing without knowing what platform or technology it would integrate with... Drupal? Wordpress? Craft?

The "Table of Contents" structure is universal (and should dictate the layout of all web content).


It is straightforward and logical.

If a table of contents is too long, we can apply structure and behavior to our application to help.

e.g. pagination, collapsible sections, indexes...

My answer would be to display all user-facing web content with the Table of Contents layout in mind, then use IA to dictate how our interactive layers will provide a more usable display.

Then we can ask:

How can I divide/structure my table of contents information in a way that's easy to use? And, if applicable, do I need any behavior layers to accomplish my goals?

And a "Defensible" version of the question might be:

Does the structure of this table of contents allow users to find what they need in less than 3 clicks? 2 clicks?

With this in mind, if you have a really deep menu, I feel it best to use a relative subset menu. One that only shows the current section of the menu tree. And long menus usually fair better with a vertical implementation (in the sidebar).

This would be based on a breadcrumb menu (probably built off taxonomies), which would also be your "main" category presentation.

The breadcrumb menu shows me the chain I followed (and allows me to go up the chain), the submenu shows me the current options available (allows me to go down the chain).

"Ajax-ing" content would probably find a good use case here.

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