We have multiple systems that contain clients. We're working on a new system to combine these clients into a single system. Our current layout is very much like a product comparison page.

Product Comparison style table

The problem now is that we're incrementally adding in existing systems one at a time. The last count was 7 different systems. It also turns out that a client can be in some systems more than once. In the end, only one instance of a client will exist in the Combined System. We obviously can't just keep tacking on columns for each time a client appears in any system. Our first idea was a dropdown in the column header with each system being a choice:

Dropdown column headers

If we went with this, it's the least amount of work for us to change the existing page but I'm not sure that it properly caters to the users of the site. I feel there's something wrong with putting them in a table because we expect many of the values to match. A client only has one Date of Birth or SSN as well as other fields I'm not showing. I think the norm should be to only show redundant information one time and the exception is to show where two different systems differ but I don't have a clear idea for how the UI should actually present that in a clear, reliable way.

  • 1
    maybe I'm missing the obvious, but why not simply swap the axis?
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 18:22
  • I think that displaying all information from all systems quickly grows redundant. While swapping axis would work, is it really the best way? There would still be the same name X times or the same SSN. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:03
  • hmm...can you explain the intent of this page a bit more? What is a user expected to do with this data?
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:17
  • The users are presented the data from the different systems and it's their job to edit the client in the Combined System to have the latest and most accurate information from the others. We merge as much as we can automatically but this is for the edges cases that a computer can't figure out. Sort of like a diff when committing to a repo. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:22
  • Oh! OK, that's good context. based on that, I really like @DasBeasto's suggestion.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


Not 100% sure I'm understanding the issue but instead of adding columns or only showing the unique data why not merge the fields that have differences and display those as dropdowns? Like this: enter image description here

That way you will only have one column for each person to save space.

EDIT: just realized I have a name column and row, so ideally flip the axis so Email, Phone, etc. are column headings and "John Doe" is the row heading. The dropdown UX is the main point of this answer.

  • I think this is a good idea. The last drop down is what I was thinking too...show the data + the system there.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 19:26

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