I'm working on an internal business tool. It needs to be information dense, and our users are internal employees who undergo training, so if it comes down to it, we value efficiency over discoverability.

As I move through different components, I find myself using many different UI mechanisms to do very similar tasks, and I'm wondering whether I can't standardize a bit more.

For example, I have made a prototype using a carousel (or vertical subnav + window) so that users can move through topics viewing complex information screens one at a time:

enter image description here

In other cases, I am using a card metaphor to present a snapshot of data that can be clicked on to show a complex screen in a modal. I am generally hesitant of using modals, but in this case I believe it is appropriate because the user can only interact with the data within one card at a time.

enter image description here

In yet another case, the user needs to be able to see summarized data across many topic areas at a glance (as in the card ui), but ALSO needs to be able to see the details of multiple topics on the same screen. For this I have been thinking about an accordion layout:

enter image description here

I would rather unify my UI and not employ so many different mechanisms. Any advice? Thanks!

  • 2
    We can't possibly answer this without understanding the data in each case and the needs of the user. Focus on the users and the data first and foremost. 'Standardizing' is nice, but maybe simply isn't in the best interest of the various types of data. Also, one thing to keep in mind: sometimes scrolling is the easiest UI. If a user needs to see all of this data at some point, perhaps making it one long scrolling page might make the most sense (but that's not true in all cases, just something to consider)
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


The modal part looks correct, although more info is needed. For example, if you're simply adding the summary data to a data container (in this case a modal) you could simply use a box container and drag and drop the summary data (buttons? Text? Actions?)

As for your other elements, they are tabbed content. The first one even shows a vertical tabbed content element, while the second one could use horizontal tabs or vertical as well, assuming you want to keep visual consistence. Then again, without knowing more details, it's very difficult to answer your question. Based on your "lots of data" and "complex data" texts, I'm quite possitive the answer is tabs rather than accordions, but I can't tell for sure without knowing more, so you might want to take a look to this discussion to understand when to use one or the other.

Finally, keep in mind that sometimes is better to "jump off" the consistency train. If tasks are quite similar and manage similar types of data, I'd recommend to use some visual diferentiation so users can quickly scan which task are they going to use. This doesn't mean to use different elements, fonts or any kind of Frankenstein-ish design, but to give visual cues, like color, iconography and helping text

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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