tl;dr Is there a way of linking from a read-only table to a settings section, without potentially confusing the user?

I have a table that exists to show a user of an internal tool an overview of certain settings on a product-by-product basis, and in particular, to show which settings have been changed from the defaults.

The settings themselves are complex and important enough such that using inline editing in the table itself probably wouldn’t hold up.

The table is to be read-only, and the settings to be accessed by digging into accordion-style expanding panels.

Then I thought about using this table to link to appropriate settings, so the user can jump to those sections, but came up against the following problem:

There’s not a lot of room in the cells for links and buttons, and if I make the string a link (see the first cell in the table, the entry for ‘Product 1’ and ‘CT’ in the mockup – ‘Include’) then it seems potentially confusing. The link is setting up the expectation that something related to inclusion or exclusion is going to happen, when the user is simply going to be take elsewhere.

Is there a way of linking from this table to the settings sections, that is clear and makes sense?

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1 Answer 1


I have built several UI screens like this in the past, with a table summarizing some info, but additional details and/or editable settings per row.

My preferred approach is to keep the table read only, but allow the user to click/highlight a whole row at a time. Clicking this row can then populate a nearby "Details" section with all the detailed info and settings, or can enable a "View Row Details" sort of button, which would open up the detailed info in a popup or nearby panel. I think this does a good job of showing the summary, and allowing intuitive deep-diving into details.

I am not sure the accordion approach in your mockup is the best approach. It seems to indicate that all rows of the table are presented redundantly in the summary table and in the accordion below. You could use this space to show details or more granular controls.

  • The row link to specific products makes sense. I just learned that we're only going to get a read only table in this release, so I'll have to push for improving the interaction later. I'm also not convinced bythe accordion approach, but we've already got code assets for similar features, and sometimes I need to specify for the sake for speed and economy.
    – dennislees
    Jul 8, 2016 at 0:55

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