Wide Tables on Small Screens

A concept for responsive tables.

We deal with big tables of data at Regent. Because our clients do not necessarily follow standard school terms and their students may not be full-time, we can end up with balance sheets with ten columns of data— one per year.

On a laptop, that might be fine. On a phone, it's not going to work even in portrait mode. Flipping the axis of the table so it has six columns and 11 rows isn't much help when we need to show a total at the bottom of each column. What to do?

Here's an example table containing typical types of data, but with an excessive number of years:

a-very-wide-table

The solution is to stop thinking in terms of the table, and start thinking in terms of the data the table imparts. Presuming this is all useful information, the user should hopefully be absorbing it all by reading left-to-right, top-to-bottom. That means we can split the rows into multiple tables:

Stacked tables

The final table would contain all of the totals. While it might seem difficult to process the different types of data on a year-by-year basis, it's pretty simple to scroll to each table in turn and scan for the 'Year x' label. Certainly it's easier than trying to parse by zooming and scrolling.

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