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I Have a TreeTable where groups of itens are organized by categories, as you can see on the image bellow. What is the best approach to present the list of results taking into account that is improtante keep the reference to the parent category?

Option A

On the search results list maintain the tree aspect , presenting the category

Option B

Present the search results list with no tree and add a new column with the category Mockup - TreeTable: Search Results

Thanks for any guidance

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I'd go with option A because option B has these disadvantages:

  • You change the control with which user is interacting. It's, at best, confusing and it should be (in general) avoided unless there is a stronger reason to do it.
  • You loose hierarchical organization. If it's useful in one case then it's also useful in the other case (especially when search result still provides many entries). See also Editing user permissions within a group for an example.
  • You have more horizontal space for text (because categories have one full row and items have a two columns layout).

Option B advantage(s):

  • Using same vertical space you can show more search results. However if categorization was important and you need that extra space because you have many results then...categorization is still important in search results.

Few more important points:

  • With option A you can still show empty categories. It's already been discussed here on UX and general consensus is (was) to keep empty categories visible (maybe auto-selecting first non empty match) whenever it's possible. Categories aren't just organization but they're information themselves (and an empty category is as much informative as items inside another one).
  • If there was a selected item and it's still present in search results then keep selection valid, nothing is more annoying than go back to the point, again.
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  • Your response was quite enlightening , I agree with you on the issue of consistency and is the option that seems more favorable , although he had some doubts because in Option B would facilitate the reading. Thank you for the suggestion about showing categories with no results. It is certainly relevant information to the user.
    – anglc
    Oct 7, 2015 at 17:17

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