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I'm looking for insight on how to effectively display tabular data to a user where not all rows have data for specific fields/columns.

Here's a simple example - I have a list of reports that I want to display to the user by displaying the report name in the first column. The objective of this table is to provide a list of reports to the user that need to be approved. A report can't be approved if it has dependencies that have not yet been approved. So "Report A" may have five items requiring approval in "Functional Area 1" and three items requiring approval in "Functional Area 2" before "Report A" can be approved. The number of functional areas for dependencies is five.

I could list each functional area as a column, but, not all reports will have dependencies that still require approval, as the user could have already approved all of the dependencies for a given report.

So I'd like some insight into how I could present this type of data to a user in a way that isn't cluttered and enhances the user experience.

So the workflow would be like this - user enters screen and sees five reports that they need to approve. Each report may or may not have dependencies that require approval, but if a report does have dependencies requiring approval, I'd like to display this in the form of a pill button (just a thought) or some in some form where I display the total number of items requiring approval in a given functional area for a given report, where the user could then click on that number or pill button and it would create like a popup or something that would take them to that functional area so that they could then approve the dependencies, and as they approve each dependency, the counts in the main page are updated in real-time.

Due to certain business constraints, the approach to how I go about doing data navigation to the dependency approval pages is not something I can change, so I'd just like to focus on presenting the list of reports and their dependencies to a user in a way that makes it easy for someone to digest.

Thank you in advance for your help!

  • How important is it to see everything that's approved or pending at a glance? – R. Barzell Oct 16 '15 at 15:50
  • If your question is specific to the dependencies, it's important to draw the user's attention to the number of dependencies requiring approval for a given report. I don't need to show the user the number of approved dependencies, as I just want to draw their attention to actions needed in order for them to approve the report. So if a report has dependencies in multiple functional areas that need approval in order for the user to then approve the report, I want to draw their attention to that – Chris Oct 16 '15 at 15:53
  • Yes, I was inquiring about dependencies. So it's only important to see the number of dependencies and not the specific dependencies awaiting approval? – R. Barzell Oct 16 '15 at 15:54
  • No, it's only important to see the specific dependencies awaiting approval, or rather, see the total count of specific dependencies awaiting approval. For example, Report A has 3 items in "Accounts Receivable" that require approval, and it also has 4 items in "Human Resources" that require approval, and I'd like to display the counts, like 3 for "Accounts Receivable" and 4 for "Human Resources" in some way that facilitates data navigation so that they can click the count and it takes them to the page to approve the dependencies. – Chris Oct 16 '15 at 15:59
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – R. Barzell Oct 16 '15 at 16:17

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