I am finding myself using Grids of tabular data on a daily basis in the programming world. But when I do I feel like I am doing something wrong. For example, in my opinion you should never feel like you should ever scroll left to right in any case (mobile or desktop).

What are some of the best practices to avoid using a grid view?

  • 1
    It's a matter of information architecture and hierarchy. What do your users need to see to make progress with a given activity. If it's a sea of data they'll crunch themselves, grids are still viable. Also look at the concept of cards and other "designed" data presentations. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 16:33
  • Tables are not out of date, you use them when you need them, a grid view renders table data, its okay to use a gridview, you won't get punished for it.
    – JonH
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 19:13
  • Why do you think scrolling horizontally is bad? With touch screens and trackpads it can even make more sense than scrolling vertically.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 21:32
  • But if my option to not scrolling right is no access the data then I will take scrolling.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


Grids are useful. Here are some tips which I hope are helpful.

  1. Grids don't have to look like grids. For example, the border width may be 0, or the border colour may be the same as the background or the fill colour. One drawback of this is that if the content is highly inconsistent in length, users may not perceive a pattern, and may instead see a scattering of text. Thin, lightweight lines to separate rows can be a good compromise.
  2. To avoid horizontal scrolling, it's possible to concatenate content into fewer cells, to avoid the dreaded horizontal scrolling problem. Get your information designer to help you figure out how best to present each piece of the content that gets combined. (Information design refers to level 4 in Jesse James Garrett's famous Elements of User Experience illustration.) Sometimes, punctuation and additional words (prepositions, conjunctions, short labels) can help, sometimes it only adds to the clutter. One drawback of this approach is that it takes time to combine the content, and if you have very large data sets or very slow connections, then you need a strategy for providing SOME of the content immediately while the rest loads. A significant drawback of combining content into one cell is sorting. The standard column-heading sort (a ▼ glyph) won't work. Instead, you can provide explicit choices that name the element to be sorted. There are compromises involved, here.
  3. You can also use elision and allow the user to progressively disclose additional content, in a given cell, through an explicit action. Elision is sometimes indicated by use of an ellipsis character: "…". Progressive disclosure is sometimes indicated by use of a glyph that moves, on use, to indicate the current status. Sometimes, progressive disclosure is a one-way trip. The benefit of this is simplicity. The user can show more, and they can also scroll to another row in the grid.

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.