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I will be building an application to create simple websites. The backend user will be able to add, delete, and modify the following:

  • Users
  • Pages
  • Menus (can be added to pages)
  • Widgets (can be added to pages)

The backend application will have a main menu with links for each of the above. Traditionally, I've made the links go to a list page showing a list of each (i.e. a list of users, a list of pages, etc), and each row would also have some extra key information as well as a delete button. The page would also have a general Add New button. Upon clicking a given name in the list, a detail page is shown which displays all the information for the given record and gives the user the ability to modify the record. The detail page typically also has a Delete button as well as a Add New button.

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For this application, the expect number of rows in the list pages is expected to be fairly small (ranging from 5 to 20), sorting and filtering is not required, and I am contemplating getting rid of the list pages, and having the main menu go directly to the associated detail page. Each detail page would have a Go To button which will open a dialog listing all the records of the given type (i.e. a list of users), and upon clicking one, they go to the detail page for that record. Each detail page will have a Delete button, and either an Add New button or instead, the Go To dialog will include a Create New button (please comment if you have opinions on this).

From a user experience prospective, what are the pros and cons of using list pages verse making these lists only accessible through a dialog from each detail page?

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Consider the number of clicks required for each task that your users will perform. For example, let's look at deleting a user:

Deleting a user in the version with the list page:

  • Click 1 on a main menu item

  • Click 2 on the delete button beside the item on the list

Deleting a user in the version without the list page:

  • Click 1 on a main menu item

  • Click 2 on "Go To"

  • Click 3 on the desired item

  • Click 4 on 'Delete'

Check other tasks in both versions to see how they compare as to efficiency. I may not be seeing the whole picture, but it seems to me that having the user open up a blank 'Detail' page, and then navigate to the list of items will consistently be less efficient than going straight to the list in the first place.

If you are proposing a change that will make the system less efficient, what specifically are your reasons for it? If you're not 100% sure that the advantages will outweigh the loss in efficiency, I would stick with the list pages. But as always, the best answer will come from careful user testing.

  • Thanks Nick, Agree number of clicks is important. Didn't say so in my op, but delete will be a fairly rare action. Going to different pages, however, will be common, and doing so will be one extra click from the start, but if already at a detail page, will be the same (go to list and click record versus click go to link and click record). My (maybe incorrect) thought is more pages leads to more user confusion. Will the other way make it simpler? – user1032531 Jul 31 '15 at 4:37
  • As far as your concerns about user confusion, think of apps that users interact with daily: When I open my email program I get a list of emails. When I open my address book I get a list of names. iTunes: a list of songs. iBooks: a list of books. Twitter: a list of tweets. Instagram: a list of pics. Since starting with a list page is so common, user confusion shouldn't be an issue. However, we see no unformatted data grids - they really treat their lists with love. They use images, icons, etc to make them more attractive, user-friendly, and enhance the user experience. – Nick Todd Jul 31 '15 at 12:28
  • All that being said, I still hesitate to give a definite recommendation without user testing. But I can still challenge your idea and invite you to defend it :) And I hope more members weigh in on this. It's a good question. – Nick Todd Jul 31 '15 at 12:33
  • Hello again Nick, Good point about all the other apps which start with lists. My only argument to defend my proposed approach is the length of lists items is small for my app, however, don't know whether this justifies doing so. I appreciate your advice, and hope to hear suggestions from others. – user1032531 Jul 31 '15 at 13:46

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