I have a bar graph on my page I'm generating from D3. The graph itself looks good. Here's the question:

My graph has the following bars:

bar1 ****************
bar2 *******
barn ************

Now, each of these bars can be expanded into subcomponents:

bar1a *******
bar1b ***
bar1n ***
barn ************

Currently the way I'm expanding these bars is I have a little "x" on the left, so something like this:

x bar1 ****************

Finally, on the left, I'm going to use a tree control which will help display and filter the bar graph. I'm using this: https://code.google.com/p/checkboxtree/

My question: Is it good UX design to use the checkboxtree control to control the graph itself? Thus, if I have my tree menu w/ bar1 as a root, then I expand it, I will get (in the tree menu)


Then the bar graph will respond in that manner?

Thanks for your time

  • Make the display interactive. Do not create another control which controls the chart. With the touch interaction, people are getting accustomed to interacting with displays directly, plus the interaction would be more or less the same in the graph as in the external control. This is called "Direct Manipulation". May 14, 2014 at 15:31
  • I wouldn't use "x" for expanding because if I'm the user, I would assume that's the delete button. Jul 14, 2014 at 23:49
  • 1. How many steps does your tree have? If it's only two levels, there's no need to bother with the tree structure. 2. Inner data sets of each bar are repetitive (so that there is bar1a, 1b, 1c and bar2a, 2b, 2c) or variative for each bar?
    – Zoe K
    Dec 10, 2014 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


The lower the friction you put between the user and their drilldown. The more usable the system.

I've seen drilldowns like you're suggesting used effectively in the past. However in each of those cases the core problem was the discoverability of the drill-down functionality.

You'll have to think very carefully about the icon you use to indicate that the bar graph is interactible in this way. I'd suggest using a couple of different icons and user-testing them.

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