Basically users have >25,000 rows of data. I chose pagination to allow the user to navigate the data. In some cases there are sub-rows. I would like to allow the user to "dive in" to deeper rows and possibly even deeper rows of data. The challenge here is not to use expand or collapse as the interaction because there can be thousands of subrows - it would be preferable to view it on it's own. I'm thinking breadcrumb type situation but I am having trouble visualizing it. Any help would be great!

Please also reference another product or tool that uses this mechanism so I can research it further and present to my team.

  • By "view it on it's own" are you thinking the sub-rows will open in a new window or page? If that's the case an external link icon might be clear enough to users but would be a bit of a stranger in a data table row. Do you have some screens you can post of what you're working on? Navigating data tables and expand/collapse parent-child relations are very standard and universally used. I'm worried that using pagination and avoiding expand/collapse could create to unique of an experience to be intuitive.
    – It's Dylan
    Commented Jan 3 at 18:23
  • Hey! Thanks for your response - it's actually a section on a page. Yes - I'm worried as well that it is too unique of an experience - It doesn't "feel" right to me but not sure why. Is there a solution for expand collapse with a VERY large list which is not load more or loading with scrolling?
    – MYaelUXUI
    Commented Jan 3 at 19:03
  • Why are you adverse to scrolling? Are you trying to fit these giant data tables into the page section that keeps the section and all displayed data in the screen height?
    – It's Dylan
    Commented Jan 3 at 19:58
  • Because there could be so much data and by scrolling to load or pressing load more might prevent the user from getting to the end. Also it's not social media style where it's "fun" to look through. Each row is important to the user - there are even actions at each row. Any ideas?
    – MYaelUXUI
    Commented Jan 4 at 6:32
  • Is there a solution for expand collapse with a VERY large list which is not load more or loading with scrolling? Yep, you can either preload all the data, or load it all when the user expands and show a simple progress indicator if it takes a few seconds to load. I am having trouble thinking of any tool with a large amount of data rows that doesn't allow users to scroll through them. I know that wasn't your original question but I'm getting hung up there. Do you have any data that suggests your users don't want to scroll?
    – It's Dylan
    Commented Jan 8 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


Pagination works well at the top level to try and reduce the amount of data that a user has to scan at a time, and I assume that you have also provided option for them to display a certain number of rows at a time to optimize the experience.

At the secondary levels and below, it is more difficult to implement pagination without it being a smooth experience, and it is also difficult to just allow endless scrolling through multiple levels of hierarchy.

I can see one of two approaches that might give you an alternative, which you can evaluate and test with users or validate with business or technical requirements.

The first is to review the hierarchy and relationship of each data row with its subsets of data, and work out if there is a more nature way of specifying the relationship. This will give you additional ways to create views or filter information rather than simply expanding or collapsing all the data.

The second is to consider some advanced search or filtering tool that allows you to specify content at different levels of hierarchy, and that way you have already provided a context for the information to be returned from the search result. This also means that you don't have to deal with navigating through the sublevel structures, which is going to be tedious anyway and probably not all that helpful to the user.

You can probably reference products like airtable or knack and other database or datatable based tools to get some ideas.


What about a sidebar, have you considered this option? I think it will solve your problem completely. The sidebar has the ability to hold an infinite amount of content due to the fact that it has a scrollbar. You can also implement pagination in the sidebar footer. This also allows you to navigate to the "2nd" level data in 1 click and quickly return to the original list.

You asked for an example - Notion and its databases

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