There are some questions that have been asked along this topic; however, I did not find this exact question.

I am having a disagreement with the technical architect on my team in regards to how to display search results in a table. The app will be internally used by business people. The tech arch is saying that the result records should be displayed all in 1 tab with just a scroll option, regardless of how many records there are. Even if there are a very large number of records he says all records should display in 1 table with a long scrolling option. My solution was to have a pre-designated number of records on each table (for example 100) and then a 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > Next and etc at the bottom of the table so user can move to different table screens and access different records. My reasoning for this is that it will be easier to recall records (I personally been in a number of situations where I was able to access a record by remember that its on table 4 for example). Additionally, I think it's easier to consume records in organized batches, versus thousands in 1 table with never ending scrolling.

We were not able to perform any user research on this and have not gone into usability testing yet, so we are trying to figure this out on our own in terms of what is the best solution.

Just wanted some of your opinions on this issue.

  • Could you provide more information about the way the search results will be used? Either solutions are fine but it would go beyond the scope of this site to try and list all the pro's and con's for each without knowing how they're going to be used. Sep 9, 2013 at 19:12
  • The application if for a medical testing lab. The search results will display clinics and the tests they have run, status, last modified, results, etc. Each attribute and can be clicked and will lead to more detailed info. The search results will be used by internal users to monitor clinic activity and better for customer service as well over decision making.
    – ih123
    Sep 12, 2013 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


The UX Book vs. The UX Scroll

Having a single page of 1000+ entries is overwhelming. Whether it's quarterly reports or employee names, having that volume of them is massive.

A user being able to sort their data is essential to agile navigation of data. I'd argue that aside from having more "pages" of data, having the option to sort the data in various ways would further enhance the usability. It's a bit difficult to discern exactly what kind of data it is on what you've provided, though.

Think about why we have books instead of scrolls. While it's true both can save your spot in reading - by bookmarking a book, or by closing both ends of a scroll around a specific part - only the book can access any part of it's data at a moment's notice. Since the job of both is to contain information for quick retrieval, the book provides a better general user experience than the scroll.

If you know your info was on Page-41, you can just go to Page 41. However, if you know your data is Kinda-3/4-down-the-scroll-bar, it's much more tasking to find your data.

  • 1
    The book vs scrolls argument is cute but highly flawed. Websites are not scrolls; websites can have anchors which you can bookmark as well; Typesetting a book is a technical nightmare - paragraphs divisions, illustrations and their distance from their references are all constraints that don't exist in scrolls. It's like slideshow presentations - the digital implementation of transparencies + overhead projector; other than forced clustering they involve many constraints that scrollable sites don't. Be cautious - real world metaphors can limit digital designs as much as they can help them.
    – Izhaki
    Sep 10, 2013 at 0:26
  • 2
    While you certainly have a point, I wasn't making a literal suggestion that websites are "like books". Merely bringing up that books replaced scrolls, and that one possible reason why that is would be their easily indexed nature of cataloging and retrieving information.
    – Arman
    Sep 10, 2013 at 0:54
  • The codex bit is interesting.
    – Izhaki
    Sep 10, 2013 at 1:07

It's easier to browse through the list without pagination. However, when you have large number of items in a list then it can become difficult when you try to recall the item within a list like you mentioned. I once had a discussion with my development team regarding showing long list of results. We came to the agreement that if the list item is less than 10~15 (up to your preference or to be tested) then there won't be a pagination, however if it's more then pagination will be used based on the condition. Hope that helps.

  • I disagree - I don't think it's easier to browse the information without pagination. Perhaps for a brief bit, but if there's thousands of entries? Pagination can help give you an idea of the total amount of information, as well as the ability to quickly jump to portions of most likely relevance.
    – Arman
    Sep 9, 2013 at 23:05
  • If there are thousands of entries there will also be tens or hundreds of page links, making the solution yet another problem.
    – Izhaki
    Sep 10, 2013 at 0:47

Empirical Evidance

There is increasing amount of empirical evidence in favour of scrolling compared to clustering.

A Design Trend

In fact, I would go as far as saying that scrolling is one of the hottest trends in UX design - it manifests itself in many so-called flat site design, and in the endless scrolling grid pattern (Facebook, Pinterest). I think it is fair to assume that these design decisions are the outcome of user-testing and research, rather than an educated guess.

Some Points to Consider

On the less empirical level please consider this:

  • Pressing a page button is not a sought action, it is a forced one (you force users to press a button to see what they want, and possibly a few buttons; scrolling, particularly on touch-devices and modern mice/trackpads is quicker).
  • The viewport size already provides clustering for very long lists.
  • If the list is sorted, people will be able to find a record and compare records much quicker with a scroll compared to pagination.

My Personal Experience

I cannot recommend highly enough changing the Google search preferences to show 100 search results - so much easier than paging through the results.

I am also misfortunate enough to be using phpMyAdmin upon the occasion - it's nearly automatic: choose browse (a table) then change the amount of records to a 1000.

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